Brighton’s air quality ‘improving’ but NO2 still at illegal levels

Brighton’s air quality is gradually improving as some of its problem air pollution spots are now compliant with legal levels, the council has announced.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s annual Air Quality Status Report shows that air quality in the city has improved overall in the last year, particularly in the Valley Gardens area and down the Lewes Road Corridor.

However, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused by road transport emissions remains the biggest contributor to Brighton’s poor air quality, as it was the only pollutant the council did not meet legal limits for last year.

Cllr Anne Pissaridou, chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: ‘It is encouraging to see that air quality in some parts of the city is improving and over the long term there have been consistent reductions in pollution levels.

‘We have been working hard to reduce emissions by investing in sustainable travel and public transport, developing electric vehicle infrastructure and encouraging behavioural change.

‘However, we can’t afford to be complacent and as this report reminds us, the biggest contributor to poor air quality in our city comes from road traffic emissions.’

Brighton first declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for NO2 in 2004 and continues to have a problem with road traffic emissions.

The city’s two existing AQMAS for NO2 date back to 2013 and cover Brighton and Hove Centre connected with Sackville Road and South Portslade, as well as Rottingdean Village.

Brighton & Hove’s high NO2 levels come despite it being one of the UK’s least car-dependent cities, as one-third of residents in the city do not own a car.

The city’s walk-to-work rates are almost twice as high as the rest of the UK, while bus use is the highest in the country outside of London.

Steps the council has taken to improve Brighton & Hove’s air quality include introducing an Ultra Low Emission Zone for buses, securing funding to retro-fit its bus fleet, and investing in electric vehicle infrastructure.

The council is also working on developing its cycling and walking infrastructure and discouraging drivers from idling, while it is putting significant effort into improving public transport as part of its Local Transport Plan.

‘The health and wellbeing of our residents is paramount, as is protecting the local environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change as a matter of urgency,’ Cllr Pissaridou added. ‘Further reductions in vehicle emissions, particularly nitrogen dioxide, are therefore essential if we are to improve the city’s air quality.

‘Over the coming year, as we develop the next Local Transport Plan, we will be exploring options to progress these measures further including reviewing traffic movement in the city centre, developing a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and moving ahead with key developments including Valley Gardens.’

The council is hoping to attain zero-emission travel as part of its commitment to significantly reduce Brighton & Hove’s carbon impacts by 2030.

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