New plan is a breath of fresh air
Warrington Borough Council’s five-year plan to improve air quality in the borough is officially under way.
The council has formally adopted its new Air Quality Action Plan, which aims to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels within the main, busy traffic routes leading into and around the town - and where possible to deliver wider improvements across Warrington.
It follows a four-week public consultation at the end of 2017, which saw hundreds of residents airing their views over what can be done to improve Warrington’s air quality.
Comments received were generally supportive of the council’s proposed measures.
The 17-point plan includes some firm, immediate actions, such as an increased focus on sustainable transport, encouraging cleaner fuels and electric vehicles, new cycling and walking links, and an intelligent transport system. Other proposed actions are to explore the potential for feasibility studies, such as looking into the potential of Clean Air Zones.
The action plan will run until 2022, and will be a ‘live’, working document which will evolve over this time, through regular reviews.
The council’s executive board member for environment and public protection, Cllr Judith Guthrie, said: “Warrington’s Air Quality Action Plan is a hugely important part of our work to protect Warrington’s environment, enhance the quality of air that we breathe and help improve the health of local people.
“It is an issue which affects everyone, and that’s why we’ve consulted fully on this, listened carefully to people’s views and taken all ideas on-board.
“I’m looking forward to the plan beginning to make a difference to air quality in our borough in the coming years. It will form a vital part of our plans for the future of the borough and the health of our residents”.
Warrington’s Air Quality Action Plan has been developed following a comprehensive investigation by the council in 2016, which saw two areas identified as exceeding national pollution levels and being designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA). The action plan focuses primarily on these two areas; the Warrington AQMA – a geographical area in and around the town centre, and the Motorway AQMA.
The full Action Plan, along with the responses to the consultation, can be viewed at https://www.warrington.gov.uk/airquality
• All local authorities are required to regularly review their air quality against national limits.
• If these limits are exceeded, then councils must designate these areas Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) and produce an Action Plan to try to improve the air quality.
• While the majority of Warrington has good air quality, there are areas close to major roads that slightly exceed the national limit for nitrogen dioxide.
• Our modern lifestyle results in pollution. The main source of nitrogen dioxide in the air is from transport. Emissions and periods of heavy congestion can impact on air quality.
• Poor air quality contributes to around 145 premature deaths each year in Warrington, and an estimated 50,000 nationally. People most at risk include those who live near major roads, often in more deprived areas, older people and people with existing medical conditions. Pollution peaks can make these health conditions worse, lead to increased hospital emissions and negatively impact on people’s quality of life.
• The council is already carrying out a number of actions to try to improve air quality, including improved encouraging an uptake in electric vehicles, and an ‘Eco Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme’, to encourage freight operators to reduce their emissions.