Liquidation of solid fuel furnaces, Eco-Patrol of the City Guard, replacement of public transport vehicles for the low-emission ones as well as education: these are the most important actions undertaken by the city in order to eliminate smog. Under the innovative participatory tool, i.e. the Citizens’ Panel, environmental experts, city residents and officials will decide on further steps to battle smog pollution. The first panel in Lublin will provide the answer to the question of what we should do to breathe fresh air.
The decision on the Citizens’ Panel to be carried out in Lublin was made, among others, as a result of the Participation Practitioners' Forum which was held in spring 2017. The Panel is one of the promising citizens’ participation tools in Polish local governments. It is also a way to involve citizens in the decision-making process related to the city issues.
A representative group, which is randomly chosen on the basis of demographic data, is invited to participate in the Panel. During the first stage, thousands of citizens will get an individual invitation. Then a draw will be held among those participants who agreed to participate. The selected panelists will meet a few times, once a week, on Saturdays, for a few hours. In the first part of the meeting they will receive information pack, whereas in the second part they will be discussing possible solutions. After hearing the opinions of the people interested in the subject, including experts, the panelists’ task will be to choose the most profitable solution for the local community.
The Citizens’ Panel in Lublin is another tool to strengthen direct participation of citizens in making decisions that affect the future of our city. We hope that it will be a permanent element of the citizens’ participatory system in Lublin alongside the participatory budget. It is not accidental that the subject of smog has been brought up. We all breathe the same air and periodical problems with air quality affect all of us. That is why we decided that the first Citizens’ Panel in Lublin will discuss the subject of air quality. Today we are presenting our main activities in this area and we are also encouraging others to develop a comprehensive response to the question of what we should do to breathe fresh air in Lublin, says Krzysztof Żuk, Mayor of the City of Lublin.
Currently, Lublin is choosing partners with whom the Panel could be conducted. The details will be announced in February, after choosing the contractor. The meetings are planned for March and April. In May we will get familiar with the recommendations concerning developed actions aimed at eliminating smog.
Low-Emission Reduction Programme (PONE, Program Ograniczania Niskiej Emisji) is now the major activity undertaken by the City of Lublin in order to reduce the air pollution rate. The programme was launched in 2013 and continues to attract increasing interest of Lublin citizens. It is about changing the solid fuel heating system into a more environmental-friendly one, using such sources as gas, oil, electricity, heat pump or connection to the municipal heating network. In 2013-2017, more than PLN 1.4 million worth of grants were given to the citizens under the PONE programme. This enabled the liquidation of more than 300 solid fuel furnaces and boilers.
In November and December 2017, as part of the activities related to the environmental education, workers of the Department of Environmental Protection of the Lublin Municipal Office conducted workshops entitled “Don’t pollute the air. Contribute to air purity” which were addressed to the pupils of Lublin primary schools. During 17 meetings in schools they discussed the issue of low emission: its causes, results and how to prevent it.
Another activity is the Eco-Patrol. Organised within the Lublin City Guard, it continuously monitors the burning of the forbidden materials in the city area. Single-family housing districts are particularly monitored and that is because the residents of such districts often use coal or wood furnaces to heat their houses. In 2017, the Eco-Patrol conducted 2085 interventions, with more than a half of them, i.e. 1116, being related to the furnace combustion and the rest being connected with burning materials outdoors. From the Eco-Patrol observations a conclusion can be drawn that many people use a very low quality coal to heat their houses, which paired with the incorrect burning technique may cause smoke and unpleasant smell.
Lublin has been focusing on a modern low-emission public transport for many years. In 2011- 2014, the city bought 100 modern low-floor buses fulfilling the high Euro 6 emission standards and 70 trolleybuses that are designed also to drive on the streets without the trolleybus traction. Furthermore, the communication lines servicing tenders organised by the Management of Public Transport (Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego – ZTM) in Lublin required carriers to provide vehicles fulfilling the latest fumes emission standards. As a result, 51 brand-new buses entered the streets of Lublin. New fleet purchase and commissioning transport services with modern fleet enabled the city to withdraw the oldest vehicles from the traffic. Moreover, the first electric bus was introduced in 2015.
Lublin Municipality is planning further investments in modern and ecological fleet under the new EU perspective. It is planned to purchase 23 buses fulfilling the Euro 6 emission standards, 32 electric buses and 40 trolleybuses. Moreover, the Lublin Municipal Transport Company (MPK, Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne) will introduce 15 brand-new articulated buses in 2018.
It is worth noting that Lublin is the first city in Poland that has introduced the Green Budget (Zielony Budżet). It aims to implement projects of green areas’ development and new plantings submitted by the citizens. Not only aesthetic values, but also new biologically active places are being created thanks to this initiative.