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Sandwell Council to launch public consultation on air quality

Sandwell Council, covering six towns in the West Midlands, will begin a public consultation on air quality this summer.

In October, the authority was directed by Defra to take further steps to address nitrogen dioxide emissions from road transport.

Sandwell was among 33 ‘third wave’ councils to have been directed by government to assess options to improve air quality in light of continued breaches of legal NO2 limits – following the High Court ruling on the government’s air quality plan, brought to the courts by green group ClientEarth.

However, the council says two key roads – A41 Birmingham Road, West Bromwich, and A457 Birmingham Road, Oldbury – are expected to meet government targets for reducing nitrogen dioxide this year, thanks to improving traffic signals and retrospectively fitting buses with cleaner technology.

Cllr Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, said the council ‘are serious about improving air quality,’ and says that they want to make sure people in Sandwell are not adversely affected by Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, due to come into effect in January 2020, which could displace more polluting vehicles into Sandwell.

The M5 motorway runs through Sandwell and is one of the major sources of pollution in the borough

‘It’s really important for our residents’ health. We’re looking forward to hearing people’s views on our plans in the consultation this summer,’ she added.

‘Changes in vehicle technology are helping but, like many areas nationwide, we need to see nitrogen dioxide levels come down further in some places.

‘We’re currently carrying out a study to confirm the worst polluted areas, so we can prioritise action in those hotspots.

‘We’re also looking at how we can reduce pollution from council vehicles and promoting walking, cycling and car sharing.’

Sandwell Council also says they are looking closely at Public Health England’s review of interventions to improve outdoor air quality and public health, published last week, especially around working across council boundaries, electric vehicle charging points and promoting public transport and cycling.

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