New environmentally-friendly buses could be coming to Leamington in an effort to tackle air pollution in the town.
And Warwick District Council has also agreed on new air quality guidelines which new developments will have to follow.
The council’s executive agreed to both plans at a meeting on Wednesday (July 25).
Levels of air pollution in Leamington have been shown to breach World Health Organisation guidelines in recent reports.
And particular ‘hotspots’ in Leamington, such as the Parade and Bath Place, are known to have very high levels of pollution. Other hotspots also exist in Warwick and Kenilworth.
To help combat this, the council will place a bid to the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEBS) for a grant to fund a fleet of electric buses.
If the grant comes through, Leamington will be served by six Volvo electric buses on bus route 67.
These will be charged by one or two overhead charging points, known as ‘pantographs’.
The pantographs would be located in Leamington town centre where many bus routes cross over.
If installed, the system would be the first of its kind in the country.
The scheme is expected to cost £3 million, but the council say it will save £17 million in the long run.
The council hopes that having the pantographs in a central location will encourage operators of other routes to introduce their own electric buses in the future.
In addition, the council agreed to a new air quality planning document, which will influence future development in the district.
The document will force developers to ‘use reasonable endeavours to minimise emissions’ and to ‘offset the impact of development on the environment’.
The two decisions have been praised by Labour councillors.
Cllr Stef Parkins, ward councillor for Lillington, said: “Since seeing the council’s Air Quality Action plan in 2015, Labour have been urging the Conservative administration to take effective action to deal with the problem of air pollution – particularly in Warwick and Leamington.”
And Cllr Kristie Naimo (Lab, Brunswick) added: “We need to tackle congestion and pollution by improving our transport links, for example by developing a bus interchange close to the railway station, adjusting bus routes and developing better, safer cycle routes into town centres.
“These two initiatives are just first steps, though welcome ones.”