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Annual report shows Colchester’s air quality improving but still work to do

Steps by Colchester Borough Council to tackle pollution have seen improvements to the borough’s air quality in key areas, according to a new report

Date issued: 6 September 2018

Steps by Colchester Borough Council to tackle pollution have seen improvements to the borough’s air quality in key areas, according to its 2018 Air Quality Annual Status Report.

Since 2012, four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) have been in place across the borough in areas where pollution was or had the potential to exceed national guidelines.

Now the annual Air Quality Annual Status Report, approved by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), shows measures put in place have seen a dramatic reduction in pollutant concentrations in one of the AQMAs which covers St Andrew’s Avenue and Harwich Road – meaning it can now be lifted.

However, it has also highlighted that changes to traffic management schemes in another of the AQMAs – at the East Hill end of the High Street – means its boundary needs to be expanded to include properties on the south side and residential properties on the north side up to Lewis Gardens. Colchester Borough Council is now working with the relevant authorities to address the cause and manage air pollution in this area.

Where an AQMA is identified, the council must develop an Air Quality Local Action Plan highlighting how they will improve air quality in the area.

Colchester Borough Council recognises the importance of air quality and the impact that this can have on people’s health and lives. As well as creating and implementing its own action plan, it has developed and supports a range of projects and initiatives to help improve local air quality including:

  • retrofitting ten buses to reduce emissions with additional funding to upgrade a further 18
  • amended the council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy to encourage cleaner vehicles
  • the introduction and promotion of AirText, a free air quality forecasting, monitoring and alert service
  • introduction of a “No Idling” policy for council staff and at its offices and supporting the Colchester Travel Plan Club No Idling campaign.
  • supporting Clean Air Day and other national campaigns and events
  • planned introduction of electric charging points in council car parks
  • Working in partnership with Colchester Travel Plan Club on a car sharing scheme.

In 2012, The Council carried out detailed assessment into the boroughs air quality, and the  main source of local air pollution in Colchester was found to be from motor vehicles. As part of the council’s commitment to improving air quality across the borough, air quality on busy roads is regularly monitored.

The work being undertaken by the council to enhance the borough’s air quality supports the Livewell Colchester initiative, which aims to improve residents health and wellbeing and its Better Colchester campaign which aims to make Colchester a better place to live, work and visit. 

Councillor Martin Goss, Portfolio Holder for Waste, Sustainability and Infrastructure, said: “We want to ensure our residents are able to live healthy lives and the fact that the number of AQMAs we have has declined is very encouraging, however we know that pollution and poor air quality does still exist in three areas.

“This latest report shows that we are delivering on our commitment to tackle poor air quality, but we do have work to do in some parts of the borough and will continue to work with other authorities to tackle these areas.

“Air pollution is so harmful to people’s health and wellbeing and I would encourage everyone to consider the simple steps they could take to make a difference, such as turning off their engines while stationary.

“The East Hill end of the High Street is an excellent example of where ‘no vehicle idling’ at the traffic lights has the potential to have a positive impact on air quality and subsequently people’s health and lives.”

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