Woking to declare first Air Quality Management Area

Woking borough council is to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) at Anchor Hill in Knaphill after nitrogen dioxide levels were found to exceed national objectives, it announced on Friday (February 15).

The AQMA will incorporate the top of Anchor Hill at the junction with Lower Guildford Road, Highclere Road and High Street, Knaphill. The decision was made following discussions at a meeting of the council executive on February 7.

Woking borough councillor

Woking borough councillor
Beryl Hunwicks said the AQMA would be the borough’s first

As part of the move, the council will install new diffusion tubes for monitoring nitrogen dioxide at the corner of Anchor Hill and Lower Guildford Road. This follows new tubes being installed on the façade of the buildings on the northern side of Anchor Hill in November 2012.

Annual mean concentrations of nitrogen dioxide monitored at Anchor Hill reached 47.7 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the latest council figures for 2011. The national objective for the pollutant is 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The only other monitoring place in the borough to measure annual mean levels of nitrogen dioxide above the national objective during 2011 was the Victoria Way site in the town centre, with 42.8 micrograms per cubic metre.

Monitoring sites

The council regularly monitors nitrogen dioxide levels at 24 diffusion tube sites located throughout the borough. The tubes are changed every month, with the old tubes sent off for analysis, the council said.

Following an annual report submitted to Defra in 2012, a new monitoring tube was added in the Constitution Hill area as two tubes already located there has shown levels within 10% of the national objective.

Working with Surrey county council and the Highways Agency, the borough council will now have 18 months to prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels in the area. In doing so, the council will consult with local businesses, residents resident associations among others.

Woking borough council map outlining the proposed AQMA in Anchor Hill

Woking borough council map outlining the proposed AQMA in Anchor Hill (Copyright and database rights, Ordinance Survey 2012)

Woking borough councillor Beryl Hunwicks, portfolio holder for environmental control, said: “The air quality within Woking Borough is monitored regularly and it’s positive that generally, the air quality in the borough is good. However, the reading in Anchor Hill is slightly higher than we would hope. Higher readings of nitrogen dioxide are often due to pollution from vehicles.

She added: “It will be the first AQMA to be issued in the Borough and steps are being taken to ensure monitoring continues and air quality is improved.”

The council said it would be discussing further steps to try and reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the area at a meeting of the climate change working group in March.

More information on air quality in Woking is available on the borough council website.