Rochford district councils has submitted proposals for an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to improve air quality in Rayleigh town centre, for approval by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Submission of the proposals follows a public consultation on the Plan, which aims to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide in the town centre.
The annual average levels of NO2 had been found to be marginally above the National Air Quality Objective in some areas of the town centre, with the dominant cause believed to be congestion.
This led to the creation of an Air Quality Management Area in 2015, covering Brook Road, Crown Hill, Eastwood Road, High Road, High Street, Hockley Road, Southend Arterial Road and Websters Way.
An AQAP has now been developed in partnership with Essex county council officers responsible for highways, school travel planning and public health. It includes priorities to reduce congestion in areas where people live close to busy roads, reduce the volume of traffic within the AQMA, strengthen planning policies regarding residential development, manage growth and support electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, the district council says.
The plan incorporates major schemes designed to reduce journey times on the A127, reducing the need for motorists to take short cuts through Rayleigh town centre.
This includes planned improvements to the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange and upgrades to the signals at Rayleigh Weir roundabout designed to reduce queuing at the approaches. It also involves measures to encourage cycling, walking, car shares and public transport.
Defra is expected to respond to the proposals later this year.
Cllr Mike Webb, Rochford district council’s portfolio holder for community, said: “The air quality in Rayleigh town centre was only just above the National Air Quality Objective, but it’s important that significant measures are taken to reduce levels of pollution. Therefore, extensive work is already taking place to bring vehicle emissions down; I’m sure most of you will have noticed the works at Rayleigh Weir which are designed to reduce ‘rat running’ through the town centre in the future.
“In addition, this detailed AQAP has been developed, having worked closely with our partners at Essex county council to identify exactly what measures will work in the long-term, and we look forward to a response from Defra.”