Southend Council launches consultation on new draft Air Quality Action Plan

Southend Council has launched a consultation of its new draft Air Quality Action Plan which outlines the actions the council will take to improve the air quality of the borough up to 2025.

The new draft Air Quality Action Plan is an updated version of the original adopted in July 2018. It has been produced as part of the council’s statutory duties required by the Local Air Quality Management framework.

The plan will prioritise Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) of which Southend has declared two as well as addressing air quality across the whole borough.

An AQMA means that, within that area, the levels of a certain pollutant such as nitrogen dioxide are above those required by legislation for health reasons. Where an AQMA is declared, the council must develop an action plan to improve air quality in liaison with local residents and businesses within 12 months of the declaration

The council’s first AQMA was declared in November 2016 at a stretch of the A127 between Hobleythick Lane and Rochford Road (The Bell Junction). The second AQMA was declared in 2020 along part of Victoria Avenue close to the junctions with Priory Crescent, East Street and West Street.

In response to declaring an AQMA, the council adopted its first Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) in June 2018. The plan includes measures in relation to local transport, highways, land use and planning, environmental health and public health.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Air quality issues undoubtedly have an impact on public health and the council continues to keep working to reduce levels.

“The emphasis of the Air Quality Action Plan is to develop measures that will provide the necessary emissions reductions to achieve the air quality objectives within specified timescales. The plan also attempts to address air quality issues by a wider, cross borough approach, focussing on prevention rather than just tackling hotspots.

“The council is constantly monitoring air pollution and we use this information to help inform road transport improvements and major infrastructure projects.

“The council has carried out a number of junction improvements across the borough such as the A127 Kent Elms scheme, which ultimately helped to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Recent work at The Bell junction, along with other measures, should also contribute to improving local air quality.

“We are determined to be at the forefront in improving air quality to protect our residents and make us one of the greenest boroughs in the country. We are now asking for your help and input to let us know what you want to see in our updated action plan.”

The consultation is now live on the Your Say Southend website where you can also view the draft Air Quality Action Plan document. The consultation runs until August 12 and is open to all residents and businesses living or trading in the borough.

Mick Ferris

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