Southend Council could declare Air Quality Management Area to tackle A127 pollution hotspots

Junctions on the A127 have been found to be pollution hotspots and Southend Council is looking to take urgent action to reduce emissions.

A section of Victoria Avenue and the A127 junctions on West Street, East Street and Priory Cresent have all breached pollutions levels set by the Government.

The council is looking to address the problem with an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) which will mean drawing up plans to manage pollution and making it open to public scrutiny.

Councillor Carole Mulroney, who oversees environment in the borough, said it would be the second time an AQMA has had to be declared around the A127 after the first in 2016 at the Bell Junction.

She said: “Although Southend does enjoy good air quality, and more people are now working from home, there are traffic hotspots giving rise to unacceptable levels of air quality in those specific areas, and this has become a serious public health concern for many cities and large towns throughout the UK.

“The council produced and adopted an Air Quality Action Plan back in June 2018. This was as a result of declaring its first AQMA along a stretch of the A127, Hobleythick Lane and Rochford Road – The Bell Junction – in 2016.

“The action plan will therefore be reviewed to take into consideration this second AQMA.”

Monitoring at the latest hotspots in Southend found the annual mean nitrogen dioxide level to be 51 ugm-3 compared with the national target of 40 ugm-3.

Exposure to excessive amounts of nitrogen dioxide can cause problems in the airways of the lungs, potentially worsening symptoms of lung diseases, heart disease and cancer.

Ms Mulroney said problems with air quality is “directly linked to human activity” so despite the council have several policies to improve the environment, there is a need for “individuals and employers to consider how they and their employees travel to work”.

Several homes will be included within the air quality zone, as well as St Mary’s Prittlewell Church of England primary school, but Ms Mulroney insisted this does not necessarily mean air quality is poor in these residential areas.

She added: “It is being recommended that the boundary of the AQMA is extended to where readings are 36 ugm-3 and not actually exceeding the national air quality objective.

“Where a property is partially within that boundary it is included within the AQMA.

“Therefore, residential and business properties are included within the AQMA, along with a school, but it is important to note that the highest levels recorded are only very close to the main road and on the main road itself where traffic is sometimes queued.”

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter