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Tackling poor air quality St Paul’s Street and Keycol Hill

Published Wednesday 9 September, 2020
Last updated on Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Swale Borough Council is taking additional action to tackle poor air quality in two parts of the borough.

Data from the council’s air quality monitoring at St Paul’s Street and Keycol Hill has shown increases in certain types of pollutants, prompting the council to take action and write to residents in the affected areas explaining what will happen now.

Keycol Hill is being declared an air quality management area (AQMA) from the A249 to Rook Lane after nitrogen dioxide levels (NO2) reached 55.5 µg m³ - above the national target of 40µg m³. This means the council will work with partners such as Kent County Council to come up with plans to reduce the levels of NO2 in the area. The pollution is primarily being caused by heavy traffic, the uphill gradient that produces more emissions, and the tree canopy that slows the dispersal of pollutants.

St Paul’s Street already has an AQMA due to NO2 levels but further observations have found that levels of particulate matter (PM10) exceeded 50 μgm-3 for 42 days in 2019 – the national target is 35 days or less.

Air quality is slowly improving across AQMAs in Swale with data collected throughout 2019 showing improvements in East Street and Teynham where NOstayed within the national standard with no exceedances.

Despite these improvements, extensive monitoring across the borough has highlighted new areas and different pollutants that require extra attention.

The council is implementing a number of measures to improve air quality across the borough including working with consultants to develop proposals for a Clear Air Zone on the A2, installing charging infrastructure to encourage the take up of zero-emission electric vehicles, converting the council fleet to electric vehicles and implementing anti-idling legislation to help reduce pollution from waiting vehicles.

The council is currently installing charging infrastructure in central car parks around the borough including council car parks in Sittingbourne, central car park in Faversham and Rose Street car park in Sheerness.

Cllr Tim Valentine, cabinet member for the environment at the council, said:

“We carry out more monitoring than anywhere else in Kent, and it is our duty to declare AQMAs if nationally set limits are exceeded.

“The data collected throughout 2019 showed we needed to declare an AQMA at Keycol Hill, and update the one at St Paul’s Street. This means we will now research the causes and work with partners to put in place effective measures that can improve the air quality for everybody who lives and works in these areas.

“We’re already working hard to improve air quality across the borough and our strategic air quality management action plan was approved by DEFRA last September.

“Many of the measures outlined in the plan will be relevant to these areas, but we will also investigate specific additional measures to help to reduce the pollution levels in these locations and will include them in the local air quality action plan.

“Air quality is a priority for us. We want clean air for local people and their families and will continue to work hard to reduce pollution across the borough.”

For more information air quality around the borough visit or air quality page.