Rochford consults on Air Quality Action Plan

Rochford district council is carrying out a consultation on actions to be included in its Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to reduce pollution in Rayleigh town centre. 

Cllr June Lumley and Rochford council’s Environmental Health Team Leader, Martin Howlett in Rayleigh Town Centre holding diffusion tubes.

Cllr June Lumley and Environmental Health team leader Martin Howlett in Rayleigh town centre holding diffusion tubes

The AQAP was developed by a steering group with officers from the Rochford’s Environmental Health Department and the Essex county council Transportation Planning and Development Team.

The steering group was supported by Ringway Jacobs with assistance from Air Quality Consultants Ltd.

The consultation was launched following the introduction of an Air Quality Management Area in Rayleigh town centre, due to a marginal exceedance of the annual average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutant closely associated with vehicle exhaust emissions.

Air Quality Management

When a local authority identifies a location within its boundary where a National Air Quality Objective is not likely to be achieved, it must declare the area an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ (AQMA).

The Rayleigh AQMA came in to being on 1 February 2015 and was subsequently approved by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Once an AQMA has been created, the local authority is required to put together a plan to improve air quality in that area – a local Air Quality Action Plan. These are often created in partnership with the local Highways Authority — Rochford worked with Essex county council.

Rochford council is now consulting on what actions should be included in this Air Quality Action Plan.

Air Quality Action Plan

The action plan sets out six priority areas: monitoring, traffic management, sustainable travel, planning policy and development control, low emission vehicles and raising awareness.

Proposed measures include a scheme to upgrade signals at the Rayleigh Weir roundabout, the A127 and to Stadium Way, improving infrastructure to increase cycling and walking and the installation of at least one charging point for electric vehicles in Rayleigh.

As well as a list of actions, the plan lays out the responsible parties who will deliver the action, the expected benefit in terms of pollutant emission and concentration reduction, the timescale for implementation and how progress will be monitored.

‘Decisive action’ 

Cllr June Lumley, the portfolio holder for community, has a remit which includes matters such as air quality. She said: “The aim of this Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) is to reduce levels of pollution in Rayleigh town centre; these may only be marginally above the nationally-set targets but it is important that we take decisive action.

“Our Environmental Health Officers have identified congestion as the main contributor, therefore many of the actions seek to improve traffic flow in Rayleigh itself and along the A127, which should also have knock-on benefits to those of us who use these routes. It is important that we now hear the views of residents and businesses to ensure we have a workable plan which successfully improves local air quality.”

All residents within the AQMA will receive a letter directly informing them of the consultation, as will the statutory consultees. Statutory consultees include: Essex county council, neighbouring local authorities, Rayleigh town council, Rayleigh Chamber of Trade, Environment Agency, Highways England and Defra.

The consultation runs from Monday 28 November 2016 to Tuesday 3 January 2017.

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