Residents are being asked their views on a proposed Air Quality Action Plan for Rayleigh town centre, which aims to reduce levels of pollution.
They are being urged to take part in a consultation at www.rochford.gov.uk/airquality which has been launched as the annual average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ) was found to be marginally above the National Air Quality Objective in some areas of the town centre.
NO2 is a pollutant associated with vehicle exhaust emissions, and some locations in the town centre have been found to exceed the target by less than 2.5% (maximum concentration of 40.9 µg/m? compared with the objective of 40 µg/m?).
This led to the creation of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in 2015, which covers Brook Road, Crown Hill, Eastwood Road, High Road, High Street, Hockley Road, Southend Arterial Road and Websters Way, the final footprint of which was decided following a public consultation.
Environmental Health Officers believe the dominant cause to be congestion and have now drawn up a number of action points, some of which are already being put into practice.
Their priorities are to reduce congestion in areas where people live close to busy roads, reduce the volume of traffic within the AQMA, strengthen planning policies regarding residential development, manage growth and support electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.
The plan, created in partnership with Essex County Council as the local highway authority, incorporates a major scheme to upgrade signals at the Rayleigh Weir roundabout, on the A127, and linking to Stadium Way. This will include the introduction of a MOVA/SCOOT traffic signal control system, CCTV and driver information signage boards, which should reduce queuing on the approaches to the roundabout and in turn reduce pollutant concentrations through the AQMA. This scheme is programmed to be completed by the end of March 2017.
In addition, the ‘A127 Corridor for Growth route strategy’ is being reviewed and planned improvements to the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange will seek to reduce journey times on the A127. This in turn should reduce ‘rat-running’ through Rayleigh town centre.
There would also be efforts to encourage cycling, walking, car shares and public transport, through practical measures.
The consultation is not about monitoring locations outside of the AQMA. The consultation will be running until January 3, 2017. Once the consultation is completed, the final plan will require approval from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Cllr June Lumley, the Portfolio Holder for Community, has a remit which includes matters such as air quality.
She said: “The aim of this Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) is to reduce levels of pollution in Rayleigh town centre; these may only be marginally above the nationally-set targets but it is important that we take decisive action.
“Our Environmental Health Officers have identified congestion as the main contributor, therefore many of the actions seek to improve traffic flow in Rayleigh itself and along the A127, which should also have knock-on benefits to those of us who use these routes. It is important that we now hear the views of residents and businesses to ensure we have a workable plan which successfully improves local air quality.”
The council has long-standing air quality monitoring arrangements in place, which have been carefully refined based on where the levels are found to be highest.
To find out more, including past monitoring locations and data, go to www.essexair.org
• To take part in the consultation go to www.rochford.gov.uk/airquality
• Hard copies of the survey will be available in the reception areas of the Rochford District Council offices in South Street, Rochford and the Rayleigh Civic Suite in Hockley Road, Rayleigh, and at libraries across the district. Please send your replies to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Environmental Health, Council Offices, South Street, Rochford, Essex. SS4 1BW
• If you are unable to fill in the survey by any of these methods then you can call the Council and we will ensure that you get a copy. Call Martin Howlett on (01702) 318049 or email: email@example.com