20 years of our clean air commitment

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For over 20 years, Brisbane City Council has provided strategic leadership for air quality in South East Queensland and implemented many important actions that have contributed to better air quality for Brisbane’s residents. In particular, Council's support for new fuels and vehicle technologies has contributed to a steady decline in pollutants such as carbon monoxide, lead and nitrogen dioxide.

In 2016 Brisbane City Council received the Clean Air Achievement Award from the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand in recognition of 20 years of commitment to clean air since the first clean air strategy was released in 1996.

Council’s achievements for air quality over the past 20 years have provided Brisbane residents with a healthy environment and set a legacy for future generations to enjoy.

The recently released Brisbane. Clean, Green, Sustainable 2017- 2031 contains Council’s air quality targets and describes the key actions to achieve these.

If you would like a copy of the previous Brisbane Clean Air Strategy, contact the Air Quality team or phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Key achievements

Clean fleet

The emissions performance of Council's fleet cars and buses have improved dramatically by:

  • introducing compressed natural gas (CNG) buses in 1990
  • consistently adopting new vehicle standards before they become mandatory, with over 78% of Brisbane's bus fleet now made up of state-of-the-art, low-emission enhanced environmentally-friendly vehicles (EEVs) with better emission standards than the Euro 5 standard
  • establishing and operating Queensland’s only publicly available vehicle emissions testing service since 2005, leading by example through testing and improving our bus emissions performance and contributing to research into alternative lower polluting fuels
  • partnering with industry leaders to broker the early introduction of ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) to South East Queensland in 2003, becoming the first Australian bus operator to use ULSD. This reduced tail-pipe emissions by approximately 20% for particulates and 80% for volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • implementing a clean fleet procurement policy, with hybrid or electric vehicles comprising more than 25% of the corporate car pool.

Many of these actions also reduce vehicle greenhouse emissions, contributing to Council’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. Find out more about Carbon Neutral Council.

City planning

City planning plays a crucial role in reducing exposure of sensitive uses to emissions from transport and industry through good urban design and separation of incompatible uses.

Key milestones:

  • The Clean Air Strategy 1996 informed the development of Brisbane City Plan 2000, in which Council first implemented planning approaches to improve air quality.
  • In 2006, Council developed CityShape - a city planning approach for transit-oriented development that reduces reliance on cars and therefore reduces vehicle emissions.
  • Brisbane City Plan 2014 provides innovative solutions to the legacy of industry and residences which were built alongside each other before there was guidance on protecting people from pollution exposure. This is achieved through using overlays to avoid new sensitive uses becoming too close to existing sources of industrial emissions.
  • Brisbane City Plan 2014 ensures that sensitive uses close to major roads consider pollution impacts through design of the streetscape to minimise street canyons and provision of mechanical ventilation.

Strategic leadership

Council has a long history of providing leadership in South East Queensland. Through the Clean Air for Brisbane Strategy, Council has contributed significantly to air quality research which has improved the knowledge of air quality in the region.

Council parntered with the former Environmental Protection Agency to deliver several joint projects including:

  • the South East Queensland Regional Air Quality Strategy – Council reviewed and evaluated air quality actions for regional air quality and implemented a range of major actions
  • the South East Queensland Air Emissions Inventory (2003), which continues to inform air quality management for the region
  • the Regional Air Quality Model (2004) tool to assess projects of significance to the regional airshed.

Clean travel alternatives

The Clean Air Strategy has informed the development of the Transport Plan for Brisbane and the Brisbane Active Transport Strategy, aiming to reduce car-dependency and the consequent vehicle emissions.

Key actions have included:

  • partnering with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to deliver the South East Busway
  • provision of free electric vehicle re-charge facilities at Council’s King George Square public car park
  • the development of the Active School Travel program, which has reduced car trips to school by 35%. This represents a significant reduction in congestion and toxic air emissions around the school environment, helping to keep our kids healthy and safe
  • CityCycle which provides more than 280,000 trips per year with 2000 bikes now available at 150 stations across Brisbane
  • investing $100 million between 2008 and 2012 to provide the largest local government bikeway program in Australia, with currently over 1100 km of bikeway and shared pathways in Brisbane.

Industrial emissions

Council addresses emissions from industry through development assessment, licensing, regulating operational compliance and education:

  • Council has licensed environmentally relevant activities since 1995 to proactively manage air emissions from industry
  • Council has taken the leading role in regards to compliance with the Environmental Protection Act for air emission complaints
  • In 2000 Council produced the first Pollution Solution guides to educate industry on how to reduce their air pollution; These have been updated as the Industry Environmental Guides, providing advice on up-to-date and cost-effective practices.

Bushfires and planned burning

Bushfires are the largest source of particle pollution in Brisbane. To reduce the incidence and severity of bushfires, Council undertakes a well-researched, state-of-the-art program of planned burning and bushfire risk management. Find out how you can prepare for bushfires and minimise your exposure to smoke.

28 September 2017