20 years of our Clean Air commitment

""Brisbane City Council is proud to receive the Clean Air Achievement Award for 2016, presented by 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.

During this time, 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.

Council’s achievements for air quality over the 20 years of the Clean Air Strategy have given the people of Brisbane a healthy environment and set a legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Key achievements

Clean Fleet

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

  • introducing CNG buses in 1990
  • consistently adopting new vehicle standards before they become mandatory, with over 78% of the bus fleet now made up of state-of-the-art, low-emission EEV’s (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicles) meeting better than Euro 5 standards
  • 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 to broker the early introduction of ultra-low sulphur diesel to SEQ in 2003, becoming the first Australian bus operator to use ULSD. This reduced tail-pipe emissions by approximately 20% for particulates and 80% for VOCs
  • implementing a clean fleet procurement policy, with hybrid or electric vehicles comprising over 25% of the corporate car pool.

Many of these actions also reduce vehicle greenhouse emissions, contributing to Council’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in 2017. Find out more about Carbon Neutral Council.


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.

The Clean Air Strategy 1996 informed the development of Brisbane’s City Plan 2000, in which Council first implemented planning approaches to improve air quality.

  • In 2006, Council developed the CityShape document, as a blueprint for the future to manage growth in Brisbane. CityShape developed a policy of transit-oriented development to reduce car-dependency and the resultant vehicle emissions.
  • Council’s new City Plan, released in 2014, includes novel measures to identify potentially polluting industries and separate these from residential areas through strong, scientifically sound planning.
  • The Brisbane City Plan 2014 provides innovative solutions to the legacy of industry and residences that sprang up alongside each other before there was guidance on protecting people from pollution exposure. This is achieved through the use of overlays to avoid new sensitive uses locating too close to existing sources of industrial emissions.
  • The 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

Through the Clean Air Strategy, Council has a long history of providing leadership in the region, contributing significantly to air quality research in South East Queensland that has directly improved the knowledge of air quality in the region. Key joint projects, in which Council co-funded and collaborated with the former Environmental Protection Agency, include:

  • 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 Active School Travel program, which has achieved results of up to a 35% decrease in car trips to school. This represents a significant reduction in congestion and toxic air emissions around the school environment, helping to keep our kids healthy and safe
  • The CityCycle initiative, which has now been operational for two years, providing over 280,000 trips 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

To reduce the incidence and severity of bushfires, the largest source of particle pollution in Brisbane, Council undertakes a well-researched, state-of-the-art program of planned burning and bushfire risk management, incorporating smoke minimisation strategies for planned burning activities.

Council’s new Bushfire Risk Management Plan includes advice for residents on how to prepare for bushfire and minimise smoke exposure where possible.

15 September 2017