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Deputy prime minister John Prescott, at a major conference in ...
Deputy prime minister John Prescott, at a major conference in

Florence on Friday, spearheaded a drive which will see over 120

European cities pledge to clean up city centre air. The ALTER

initiative was launched during the UK's Presidency of the European

Union in Chester in April.

ALTER - Alternative Traffic in Towns - aims to help tackle traffic

congestion by allowing access to parts of cities only for cleaner

vehicles and by signing up to convert council vehicle fleets to

cleaner models and fuels.

All European cities with a population of 100,000 or more are invited

to take part in ALTER. Six cities - Athens, Barcelona, Florence,

Lisbon, Oxford and Stockholm - have been designated as lead


Mayors of participating cities will sign up to a declaration to

improve air quality in cities and to action, including designating

clean air zones, which prioritise road space in the cities for low

emission vehicles. This will generate demand for cleaner vehicles and

reduce their cost. Many examples of clean vehicles technology are on

display at the conference.

Mr Prescott said:

'I am delighted that this exciting project in now being adopted

throughout Europe. This is a classic example of doing your bit'.

'There are two prongs to our strategy: reducing car dependency

and improving vehicle design. ALTER helps reduce air pollution by

encouraging better design. This can also help towards reducing the

greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. The cities in the group

show that by acting together rather than going it alone we can

influence not just how people behave but create demand for cleaner

vehicles and fuels.

'The buying power of 120 cities means there is an opportunity

for global companies to find markets for greener vehicles and

alternative power systems. Manufacturers already have the technology.

They will soon realise that they'll only sell their cars if they can

reach the tougher emission standards set in ALTER cities.

'This will bring real benefit to everyone who lives, works or

visits our cities. It can make a real contribution to fighting smog

and improving the quality of city life.'

Mr Prescott went on to say that it was vital that people woke up to

the damage to health, heritage and the environment caused by the

atmospheric and noise pollution from vehicles. Although he stressed

the benefits that had come with increased access to transport and

praised the motor industry for developing cleaner vehicles he said

people should be encouraged to use public transport more.

He said the challenge of getting people to choose alternatives to the

car was to make public transport efficient, affordable and reliable.

He pointed to the New Deal for Transport White Paper, published in

July, as a model which others could follow.


1. ALTER stands for Alternative Traffic in Towns

2. ALTER aims to get European cities to agree to 3 key principles:

1. to renew, as soon as feasible, their owntransport on clean

or near zero basis;

2. to convert, where practical, those of their vehicles with

extended lifetimes to lower emission or cleaner fuel; and

3. to introduce, and progressively extend, areas of their

cities to which only traffic with clean or near zero emission

vehicles have access.

3. Over 1,300 regional, provincial and local governments throughout

Europe have been invited to subscribe to the Florence

declaration which includes the three main objectives above.

4. The next meeting is a producers' conference in Athens next


5. For further information on ALTER contact:

Stephen Mark Executive Director 01865 724441 or

Jamie Gibbs Assistant Co-ordinator 0171 2253503

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