Warrington council is consulting residents and businesses on the adoption of an 18-point plan to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution within the borough.
The plan, which outlines actions that the council intends to take through to 2022 to improve air quality, includes the potential to explore establishment of a clean air zone.
Councillors approved a draft version of the plan at a meeting on Monday (13 November), with the proposals published for consultation yesterday. Stakeholders have until 15 December to comment on the draft plan.
Currently two air quality management areas currently exist in the borough, one around central roads within the town and another following main arterial roads into the area. The plan has been introduced to target improvements across these AQMAs as well as wider improvements within the town.
An estimated 175 deaths per year are linked to air pollution in the Cheshire town, the council has claimed.
Within the plan the council has identified five priority areas for improving air quality, these including reducing traffic volume and improving traffic flows, reducing emissions from HGVs, reducing emissions from buses and taxis, reducing exposure for those who are most vulnerable to air pollution, and ensuring that future development is designed to improve air quality.
Measures outlined within the plan include the potential introduction of a workplace parking levy, which the council claims would see employers charged based on the number of parking spaces available to their employees as a way of discouraging car parking at employment sites and to encourage use of public transport or active travel.
The council will also commission a feasibility study to inform a decision about the potential implementation of a clean air zone in Warrington, to reduce the number of the ‘most-polluting’ vehicles entering certain areas.
Plans are also in place to review the council’s Local Transport Plan, which will tie in with the air quality plan, and is aimed at boosting the use of public transport, encouraging a switch to cleaner transport modes by improving electric car charging infrastructure and reviewing policies around the use of taxis in the borough to encourage cleaner vehicles and prevent engine idling.
Other actions include monitoring of fine particulates (PM2.5), improving the information provided through the council’s air quality webpage and establishing an action group with schools, nurseries and care homes aimed at spreading awareness of air pollution.
Commenting on the proposals, Warrington’s executive board member for environment and public protection, Councillor Judith Guthrie, said: “Poor air quality can have a huge impact on people’s lives, and that’s why this is such an important plan for Warrington. It’s part of our commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents, now and in the future.
“Cleaner air in Warrington will benefit us all, so I would urge everyone to get involved in this consultation, have your say, and help us shape our action plan. We would especially welcome the views of people who are most impacted by poor air quality, such as those who live near major roads and our more vulnerable residents.â€?
A final version of the action plan is expected to be adopted by February 2018.
Warrington draft AQAP