AQMAs introduced by the council in Ampthill and Sandy in attempt to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in area
Two Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared by Central Bedfordshire council in Ampthill and Sandy with the aim of reducing levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in the region.
The council said its regular air quality monitoring across the region showed that levels of nitrogen dioxide in Ampthill town centre and on the outskirts of Sandy will exceed national limits for the pollutant if action is not taken.
As a result, an AQMA has now been declared covering parts of Bedford Street, Church Street, Woburn Street and Dunstable Street in Ampthill. Another has also been declared along the A1 road from the Georgetown exit to Bedford Road in Sandy.
According to the council, this will allow the council to develop action plans in liaison with other agencies and stakeholders in an attempt to reduce pollution levels. A public consultation on the plans will take place before the final AQAPs (Air Quality Actions Plans) are introduced.
Councillor Brian Spurr, executive member for community services, said: We regularly monitor air quality levels across Central Bedfordshire and compare them to national averages, and it is rare to have any cause for concern.
However, our predictions are that nitrogen dioxide levels the two areas will exceed national guidelines which is why we are acting now to help reduce them before there are any problems. We have already consulted residents before creating the air quality management areas and we will be seeking public feedback on our action plans too before they come into force.
The council said the two AQMAs would remain in place until the raised levels of nitrogen dioxide, caused by traffic congestion, are reduced.
Another, third, AQMA was also declared by the council in Dunstable in 2005 in relation to sulphur dioxide emissions reportedly from Stewartby Brickworks.
However, this AQMA was later revoked after the brickworks ceased production as a result of not being able to achieve the air quality objectives for the site and sulphur dioxide levels have reduced dramatically, according to the council.
Currently, Central Bedfordshire uses 47 passive diffusion tubes to monitor nitrogen dioxide andfour real time analysers to monitor nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and ground level ozone.