A CLEAN air zone for buses will be rolled out in York after proposals were given the go-ahead by senior councillors.

But Clean Air York criticised delays to the scheme and called for efforts to tackle pollution to go further.

The council’s executive approved plans for £1.64 million funding to help bus companies make their vehicles more environmentally-friendly.

Caroline Lewis, speaking at a meeting on behalf of Clean Air York, welcomed the news but said: “We are concerned about the delay in it coming forward when around 150 York residents die prematurely from air pollution-related illnesses each year, and we insist that no further delays are made.

“We are also concerned that the council is only looking at a clean air zone for buses, given the scale of the issue.”

She also called for the council to introduce enforceable anti-idling measures.

Marc Bichtemann, managing director of First Bus York, also welcomed the plans but said clean air technology can cost up to £20,000 per bus to fit.

He said: “Without the support of City of York Council, it is likely that our services would be reduced in York as operators alone cannot meet the cost.We absolutely recognise the role we have to play in improving air quality for the communities of York and we have made good progress with electric buses and the on-bus technology that comes with it.”

The clean air zone will start in January 2020 for buses running on and inside the inner ring road, but companies will be able to continue operating higher-emission vehicles until 2021 if they can prove that they will retro-fit a cleaner exhaust or replace the bus with a more environmentally-friendly model.