Emissions strategy for Northampton aims to cut pollution with electric taxis, cars and charging points

Emissions are caused by heavy traffic.

Emissions are caused by heavy traffic.

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A Northampton Borough Council report has proposed offering motorists vouchers good for one week's trial of an electric car.

The recommendations are also seeking to start a "don't use the car for a day" initiative and develop an electric car taxi service in town, with on-street charging points.

Town centre has come to a standstill several times in recent months.

Town centre has come to a standstill several times in recent months.

They come as part of Northampton Borough Council's Emissions Strategy, which proposes a range of schemes to get the town's air pollution levels under control and will be ratified by cabinet next week.

But the Green Party's Steve Miller said: "The emissions strategy lacks any timescales or a sense of priority. I don't get a sense of what the council is focussed on or when they plan to achieve anything."

The strategy comes after a report published in May claimed one in 20 deaths in Northampton can be attributed to air pollutants, particularly a toxic byproduct of diesel engines called nitrogen dioxide.

Also, in a heatwave in July 2016, the Kingsthorpe area briefly suffered the worst air pollution levels in the country.

The strategy, which goes before the full Northampton Borough Council cabinet on June 21, recommends a string of investigations and changes to cut the town's emissions.

It includes proposals to move the entrance and exit of the Mayorhold Car Park, in Silver Street, to reduce congestion, establish a town-wide Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) to monitor Northampton's air pollution and introduce a park and ride.

There could also be a feasibility study to see if Northampton would benefit from a 'clean air zone', which would charge high-emission vehicles from entering the town during certain hours.

Mr Miller said: "It's a step in the right direction, and the town needs a long-term environmental strategy. The plan is feasible and the efforts to make electric vehicles more available in the town really is a good idea.

"Unfortunately, much of the report is just promises to look into things. It doesn't say when, or how much it will cost, or what they will do first."

A leading cause of air pollution is standing and slow-moving traffic on busy roads.

A Guardian investigation in April singled out Weedon Road, west of Northampton, for producing more than the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide, and identified four schools or nurseries along it that could be exposed to the fumes.