Views sought on Hitchin air quality
North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) is seeking views from the public about ways of improving air quality in an area of Hitchin.
In 2012, NHDC designated a small area along Stevenage Road, east of the Hitchin Hill roundabout, as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). This followed tests which showed levels of nitrogen dioxide at slightly above the recommended limit. Following public consultation, in 2013 the Council published an Action Plan that identified measures that might improve air quality in that area of Stevenage Road.
Almost five years later, the Action Plan for the Stevenage Road is due for a review and another small area of Hitchin, where Park Way joins the Payne’s Park roundabout, has been found to have levels of nitrogen dioxide that also slightly exceed the recommended limit.
As a result, an Action Plan has been drafted that identifies measures that should lead to improvements in air quality at both the Stevenage Road AQMA and the Payne’s Park AQMA.
The main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution is road traffic. Stevenage Road and Park Way are different sections of the main road (A602) between Stevenage and Luton. On the A602, the Hitchin Hill roundabout and the Payne’s Park roundabout are busy junctions where multiple roads meet and can result in traffic congestion. Within both AQMAs cars contribute the highest proportion of the emissions, but HGVs also represent a significant source.
People are being asked to comment on a number of proposals including improving the efficiency of HGVs and their movements, raising awareness of air quality in schools and businesses, encouraging the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles and encouraging the use of walking, cycling and public transport. Ways of working jointly with other organisations to tackle the issue will also be explored.
A number of these measures and others were identified within the 2013 Action Plan and some progress has been made with them:
- Provision of electric vehicle recharging points in a number of public car parks and enabling parking while charging at those points to be free.
Inclusion of an Air Quality Policy (Policy D4) within the NHDC Local Plan and an Air Quality and Planning Guidance Document to support that Policy.
Joint working with Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health department to enhance NHDC’s local air quality monitoring network
Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s executive member for Housing and Environmental Health, said: "While the Council does not have control over all the factors that might contribute to local air quality – the Government sets vehicle emission standards for example, we can contribute to managing the situation for the benefit of the local community.
"We would like to reassure North Hertfordshire residents that air quality in the district is generally good. However, we have put together some proposals that we think will help in these two particular areas and we would value the views of local people on those proposals."
To find out more about NHDC’s proposals, and to take part in the survey, visit www.north-herts.gov.uk/airqualityconsultation or go to NHDC’s website and search for ‘air quality consultation’. Consultation ends on the 1st September 2017.