Wide-ranging work to improve air quality across Bath and North East Somerset has been outlined in an annual status report which shows decreases in harmful levels of NO2 across the district.
The detailed report says the average decrease in nitrogen dioxide across the district was 10 per cent in 2017 compared with eight per cent the previous year.
Nitrogen dioxide is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. Air pollution affects the most vulnerable – children and older people and those with heart and lung conditions.
According to figures Lambridge has seen a larger drop of 23 per cent in NO2 concentrations due to the extension of the bus lane to the A46 roundabout and the location of queuing traffic away from the roadside
In Keynsham High Street there has been a 15 per cent decrease in NO2 concentrations following the introduction of a trial one-way system and in Saltford all the monitoring sites are below the objective of 40pg/m3.
However the report says this is not the case for the A37 in Temple Cloud and Farrington Gurney. It says both places should be declared as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) and action plans drawn up.
Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative Combe Down) cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, said: “The council takes the issue of air quality seriously throughout the whole of Bath and North East Somerset and is taking action as rapidly as possible. The main pollutant is road traffic, which is exacerbated in Bath with the city being set in a valley which can trap the pollution.
“We are working on many measures including the introduction of a charging Clean Air Zone in the city, to rapidly improve the air we breathe but this also relies on individual actions because each one of us has a responsibility to take action to improve air quality.”
The annual report says an AQMA is not being declared in Whitchurch but monitoring is continuing at key locations because concentrations of NO2 are close to theobjective limit and the area will be reviewed in 2019.
It says monitoring at Saltford, Pensford, Batheaston/Bathampton, Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Westfield and High Littleton/Timsbury are below the 40ug/m3 objective limit.
Council leader, Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative Mendip) said: “While it is welcome news that there is a decrease in the levels of nitrogen dioxide in across the district more work is needed to reduce these levels even further because poor air quality is a serious public health risk to us all. We are working towards a cleaner Bath but this means everyone using more sustainable ways to travel.”
The report details a series of actions already in place to improve air quality as part of the council’s Clean Air Plan called Bath BreATHes 2021 as well as proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone in Bath.
The report notes work by the council, as part of a successful consortium bid, for money from the lean Bus Technology Fund to retrofit 29 buses operating in the area to meet engine standards for clean air; a commitment to electric vehicle infrastructure; development of the Next Bike cycle hire scheme; a review the taxi licensing policy to allow the use of electric vehicles; and supporting the Mode Shift Stars which is a national award scheme supporting cycling, walking and other forms of sustainable travel for schools.
For further information about air quality in Bath go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021