Air quality in South Northamptonshire is ‘heading in the right direction’ in 2019 according to an annual report from the district council.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide is the only metric that is monitored by South Northamptonshire Council, but the levels indicate a downwards trend within the district, reports the Northampton Chronicle.
This came during a period where Watling Street, in Towcester, was closed to traffic from August 2018 until early December 2018 due to essential roadworks. Officers said that this was taken into account, and that the closure of the road ‘proved that a significant proportion of nitrogen dioxide concentrations within Towcester town centre are related to road traffic emissions’. Air quality has been measured in Towcester town centre and the South Northamptonshire district.
Councillors were keen to highlight the positive impact that the new relief road could also have on Towcester town centre. Councillor Dermot Bambridge, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Air quality is something that’s hitting the headlines all the time now. But it’s also important for us in other respects, and one of those is to highlight the problems in Towcester with the air quality there. It’s a key point for getting the relief road put through.
“The report is mainly focused on nitrous dioxides, but it probably kills more people than COVID does in actual fact, so it’s that important.”
Trevor Pugh, Assistant Director for Environment at the council, said: “It’s a largely positive picture with nitrogen oxides coming down across the district. It’s not in fact due to COVID or the road closure because the data in the annual report is before COVID and we took into account the road closure as well, so there’s this general picture and it’s largely due to improved technology in vehicles.”
The concentration of nitrogen dioxide across areas of Towcester in 2019 varies from being five to 10 µg/m3 less than those in 2015.
Council leader Ian McCord said: “It’s a good thing that the problem is diminishing, but I don’t think we should be complacent in saying that we’ve solved the problem. We still need the relief road and still need to do the things that we’ve been planning to do.
“It’s good news that it’s not getting worse, and it’s also good news that the air quality in general is improving probably in line with engine technologies. By and large we’re going in the right direction, but our message needs to be that we still want a more permanent solution in the form of the relief road.”