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
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