05/08/19: Swaffham air quality improves after councils take action

Air quality in Swaffham has significantly improved, following steps taken by local councils.

A small area within Swaffham town centre was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) by Breckland Council in May 2017 as it did not meet national targets of having a maximum of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre. The district council has since been working closely with its partners, including Norfolk County Council and Swaffham Town Council, to put in place measures to improve air quality and latest readings show that nitrogen dioxide levels in the area during 2018 fell to an average of 30 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre (a 25% drop). Long term exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide has been found to cause serious respiratory problems.

Steps already taken by Breckland Council and its partners have included changing traffic flow through the town, making parking improvements, and encouraging residents to take action too. For example, during UK Clean Air Day Breckland worked with a local YouTuber to create engaging short films which have been seen by thousands of people, focussing on air quality issues and encouraging people to walk or cycle and to avoid idling their car engines. The partners are already considering further steps, such as changing approved routes for heavier vehicles to use in the area, introducing pedestrianised zones, and adding more greenery to the town. 

 Cllr Alison Webb, Executive Member for Housing, Health and Environment at Breckland Council, commented: "We are delighted that the town's air quality has already seen a big improvement. The actions taken to date appear to have made a big difference and, with the assistance of our partner organisations, we will be seeking to build on this good progress going forward. We will keep up this momentum, for example several large housing planning applications in Swaffham have recently been reviewed and revised requirements relating to air quality have been requested from developers and rapid charging points in the council-owned Pedlars Car Park will soon make it easier for people to use electric cars in the town."

Cllr Colman, Cllr Sherwood and Cllr Wickerson, Breckland Council ward members for Swaffham, added: "The latest air quality readings are very positive news for the town's residents and show the benefit of joined up working between the local authorities. Reducing air pollution is essential and we look forward to seeing further improvements over the coming months and years."  

Breckland Council will continue air quality monitoring over the next few years to ensure that this  improvement in air quality is maintained.

Last updated: 03/10/2019 13:20:11