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Air Quality Action plan proposed for Kingshill as Council bids to cut pollution

Friday, 2 February 2018

Swindon will look to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in a bid to tackle poor air quality in the Kingshill Road area.

A modelling exercise using air quality monitoring data found that Kingshill Road exceeded the national air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide.

The exercise found that the area has levels that exceed government guidelines for annual average readings of nitrogen oxide (NO2), which should be less than 40μg/m3. Readings taken from Kingshill Road show annual average NO2 levels are around 51-μg/m3.

The Environment Act 1995 and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) requires councils to monitor local air quality and report on progress in keeping pollutants below national thresholds.

A number of neighbouring authorities to Swindon have already declared AQMAs including Wiltshire Council (eight areas), West Berkshire Council (four areas), South Gloucestershire Council (three areas) and Vale of the White Horse District Council (three areas).

According to the Swindon Air Quality Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), no direct effect on the health of Swindon residents has been observed as a result of poor air quality.

However, air pollution, if not addressed, is associated with a number of adverse health effects. It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer and particularly affects the most vulnerable in society such as children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions.

To combat pollution in Kingshill Road, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet will be asked to authorise the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area Order and the creation of an Air Quality Management Steering Group at its meeting next week (7 Feb).

The steering group, made up of a range of stakeholders from highways and transport, public health, environmental health and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety would be tasked with developing and overseeing the implementation of an Air Quality Action Plan for Swindon, working to improve air quality across the borough.

The steering group would also engage and consult with local councillors and residents on the action plan, be responsible for its implementation and regularly monitor its impact.

The higher than average levels of nitrogen oxide detected at Kingshill Road have been attributed to traffic volumes in close proximity to homes. It is estimated that traffic volumes would need to reduce by around 30 per cent in order to meet the target values, but this would be subject to further study and modelling.

Local residents and other key stakeholders would also be kept informed of the progress of the action plan.

In declaring an AQMA the Council would be able to apply for additional funding from DEFRA to address the Air Quality Management Plan.

Cllr Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “By officially declaring this as an air quality management area, we would ensure we are taking positive and proactive steps to tackle poor air quality along this road and want to work with residents to explore positive ways we can improve air quality for everyone, from encouraging walking and reducing the volume of traffic, to tackling idling engines.

“On average around 80 per cent of nitrogen dioxide emissions in areas where the UK is exceeding nitrogen dioxide limit values is due to transport with the largest source of emissions from diesel light duty vehicles (cars and vans), and there has been significant growth in these vehicle numbers over the last 10 years in the UK.

“Air quality in Swindon is relatively good and we are doing a lot to improve it including promoting active and sustainable travel, designing neighbourhoods to encourage healthy lifestyles and travel choices, and promoting cleaner energy.”