North Hertfordshire district council has called for views on its air quality plan for reducing emissions in two areas, five years after an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) was first established in the district.
Options are being explored to bring about a reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions, which are largely caused by road transport, the council has claimed.
Proposals will focus on two areas – an existing AQMA in Hitchin along Stevenage Road, east of the Hitchin Hill roundabout, as well as an additional area in the town near the Payne’s Park roundabout, where nitrogen dioxide emissions have been found to exceed legal limits.
As a result, an Action Plan has been drafted that identifies measures that should lead to improvements in air quality at both the Stevenage Road AQMA and the Payne’s Park AQMA.
The main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution is road traffic. Stevenage Road and Park Way are different sections of the main road (A602) between Stevenage and Luton.
On the A602, the Hitchin Hill roundabout and the Payne’s Park roundabout are busy junctions where multiple roads meet and can result in traffic congestion. Within both AQMAs cars contribute the highest proportion of the emissions, but HGVs also represent a significant source.
People are being asked to comment on a number of proposals including improving the efficiency of HGVs and their movements, raising awareness of air quality in schools and businesses, encouraging the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles and encouraging the use of walking, cycling and public transport.
Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s executive member for Housing and Environmental Health, said: “While the Council does not have control over all the factors that might contribute to local air quality – the government sets vehicle emission standards for example, we can contribute to managing the situation for the benefit of the local community.
“We would like to reassure North Hertfordshire residents that air quality in the district is generally good. However, we have put together some proposals that we think will help in these two particular areas and we would value the views of local people on those proposals.”
A number of these measures and others were identified within a 2013 Action Plan and some progress has been made, the council claims, including on the provision of electric vehicle charging points, inclusion of an air quality policy within the NHDC local plan, and joint working with Hertfordshire county council’s public health department to support air quality monitoring.