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Air quality plans going to cabinet

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Monday 11 March

Councillors are being asked to approve additional measures to help improve air quality across the borough.

A consultation on Swale Borough Council’s draft air quality action plan came up with additional measures to be included in the plan which, if approved, will be submitted to Defra.

Swale currently has five air quality management areas (AQMAs) – East Street, St Pauls, Newington, Teynham and Ospringe – where levels of nitrogen dioxide are above the annual mean objective of 40ug/m3.

The draft plans contained 12 measures to help the council focus resources to deliver improvements in air quality – seven borough-wide strategic measures, and five local measures focussed within each AQMA.

The consultation ran from November to January and three focus groups were also held in Sittingbourne, Faversham and Newington.

As part of the consultation, respondents ranked the proposed measures to improve air quality, with a clean air zone using HGV restrictions along the A2 being the most popular strategic measure.

There was also support for a low emissions strategy and more local measures such as school and business travel plans and taking action on pinch point parking.

Cllr David Simmons, cabinet member for environment and rural affairs at the council, said:

“This is the third report on air quality that we have presented to cabinet in the last six months, which reflects the seriousness we put on this issue.

“We have some ambitious plans to tackle air pollution, not just in the action zones, but across the wider borough.

“The proposed clean air zone along the A2 – which could use automatic number plate recognition, similar to London’s Low Emissions Zone – could have a significant impact, so it was good to hear that people supported that proposal.

“The consultation also came up with additional ideas such as better links with the local plan, which we are adding to the air quality action plan.

“If these plans are approved it will be a clear statement to the government that this council is not prepared to wait for better air quality.

“It is vital they get this message as whilst we are the ones responsible for preparing the plan, the bigger picture response to the issues lies beyond our control – with central government and County Hall.”

If cabinet agree, the air quality action plan can then be submitted to Defra for approval. Once approval is given, the council can then work with Kent County Council and other partners to progress the actions identified to help tackle the issue.

The plans are being discussed at cabinet on Wednesday, 20 March, and the report on the plans can be viewed here.

For further information on air quality within the borough www.swale.gov.uk/air-quality

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