A BEEFED-UP action plan is being drawn up to try to tackle potentially-deadly air pollution in York.

City of York Council is to use a £68,500 Government grant to fund a study into ways of improving conditions at a range of locations in and around the city centre.

Last year, the council claimed that poor air quality was linked to 158 premature deaths in York each year. The next steps are to be outlined at a council meeting next week.

Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for city strategy, will be asked to endorse a report suggesting further schemes designed to improve air quality in the Salisbury Road, Queen Street and George Hudson Street areas.

The grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be used to pay for a study into bringing in a city-centre low emission zone for buses and coaches. The results are due at the end of 2012.

An Eco-Stars scheme could also be launched to cut vehicle emissions and encourage the use of greener modes of transport. It will be initially directed at buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles and the council’s own fleet, and could ultimately be expanded to include taxis and other large fleets of vehicles.

A final draft of the council’s Low Emission Strategy is to go before its cabinet in April, followed by consultation with residents and businesses.

Coun Merrett said: “I am disturbed at the deteriorating air quality position in York, which is why we’ve declared the need for further air quality management areas.

“We are therefore rewriting the previous draft Low Emission Strategy to ensure we have a strategy fit for the purpose of reversing the current worsening air quality position. The government grants for a low emission zone feasibility study and to establish an Eco-Stars fleet recognition scheme are important to help us tackle these issues.”