Councillors adopt clean air plan

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A comprehensive action plan to improve air quality across the district over the next five years has been adopted by councillors.

It contains a raft of measures designed to reduce pollution and encourages everyone to work together to achieve the same aim.

Cllr Simon Cook, Leader of the council and Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee which approved the Air Quality Action Plan 2018-2023, said: “Improving air quality is a key priority for the council and we will do all we can in those areas we can directly influence.

“But everyone has a role to play. Residents, businesses, hauliers, Kent County Council, other public sector bodies, the higher and further education sector, schools, public transport providers and the NHS all have a role to play. Of course, this list is not exhaustive.

“There are some small things we can all do today that, when combined, should have a big impact.”

They include:

  • Turning off your engine when waiting to collect your children from school, while a passenger pops into a shop or when you are queuing at a level crossing
  • Walking, cycling or taking public transport to work or to get the children to school at least one day a week
  • Using the council’s Park and Ride scheme to get to work in the city centre
  • Reporting excessively smoky lorry or bus exhausts to the Department for Transport by visiting gov.uk/report-smoky-vehicle

For its part, the plan says the council will:

  • Adopt powers to fine people who leave their engines running when parked up or in stationary traffic like a level crossing queue
  • Increase awareness of the issues and help educate the public, for example by promoting walking, cycling and car sharing
  • Review the city council’s staff travel plan to encourage council workers to leave their cars at home
  • Develop and implement an agreed framework of mitigation measures, including electric vehicle charging points, to be used in assessing planning applications
  • Promote use of low-emission taxis
  • Promote the council’s Park and Ride scheme, increase capacity and use low-emission buses to run it
  • Facilitate the creation of electric vehicle charging points
  • Work with Kent County Council and developers to increase the number of bus lanes
  • Develop road network improvements such as a new A2 off slip at Wincheap, a new A2 interchange at Bridge, an A28 to A257 relief road and a Sturry link road
  • Work to reduce traffic delays at level crossings
  • Buy low-emission council vehicles and plant

Cllr Cook added: “Five years is a long time so we stand ready to take advantage of any new ideas that might come along and advances in technology or our understanding.”

In April of this year, the council announced a variation of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Canterbury and declared a new one in Herne.

An AQMA has to be declared when, as a result of evidence gathered by the council, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels exceed an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

The Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a national network of monitoring stations to check background air quality in order to comply with EU legislation.

The city council operates a background monitoring station for this network near the Chaucer School.

The highly-publicised list of the 45 worst-performing cities in relation to compliance with the EU directive is based on this monitoring and national modelling of pollution mapping.

Canterbury is not one of the cities predicted to exceed the EU limit values for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in accordance with the directive nor is it predicted to do so by 2025.