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News - 29 August 2004

Brighton & Hove gets serious about improving air quality

An air quality management area (AQMA) is being proposed for some parts of the city as pollution levels are predicted to exceed acceptable levels.

Action is being taken now by Brighton & Hove City Council to further reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. A city-wide study carried out by environmental officers is predicting that levels of nitrogen dioxide caused by traffic emissions will be higher than government requirements. The higher levels are predicted to occur near some major roads only.

The parts of the city that are predicted to exceed the government's required levels cover areas of Lewes Road, Grand Parade and Preston Circus.

On Thursday, 2 September), the environment committee will discuss the measures being taken.

A review and assessment report was carried out by the council as a requirement of the Environment Act (1995), and its findings have been verified by the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The boundary line of the AQMA runs from near the Royal Pavilion at the bottom of Marlborough Place, York Place and along the A23 to Preston Circus. Then from Preston Circus the boundary line runs along Viaduct Road. It then follows the Lewes Road between Grand Parade and the Vogue Gyratory, and includes the bottom sections of Hollingdean Road and Bear Road. A map of the AQMA is available with the committee report, available at public buildings and on the council's website at Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the environment committee, said, "The results are a stark warning that we need to further reduce traffic levels. The air quality management area will make it easier to focus on the hotspots and give us a better indication of where resources need to be allocated. Over 126 local authorities have AQMAs, including Oxford, Kendal, Bristol, Salisbury, Greater Manchester and London boroughs. Most of them have been designated because of pollutants arising from road traffic."

The council is already consulting on the city's next Local Transport Plan, which will contain measures to tackle congestion and pollution. This will incorporate a number of programmes including: · Traffic management schemes; · The extension of the quality bus partnership; · Parking management; · Improved facilities for walking and cycling; · Integrated land use planning policies.

Existing initiatives such as rapid transport, park & ride improvement, the coach strategy, home zones and car clubs will also lessen the impact of traffic on air quality.

New initiatives could include low emission zones, where access is only provided for vehicles meeting the minimum standard emissions, and new technology to reduce congestion.

Councillor Gill Mitchell said, "The transport schemes developed in partnership have already resulted in reductions of car traffic entering and leaving the city. There is a continued increase in bus passengers and an increase in people walking and cycling. As a consequence there has been year-on-year improvement in the levels of pollution caused by road traffic. "But its clearly not enough and more needs to be done to help improve the air quality for people living, working and visiting Brighton & Hove."

A further review and assessment report will be carried out within 12 months.

Read related items on:
National and regional policy
Brighton & Hove City Council
Mitchell, Gill

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