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Have your say on air quality action plan

Warrington Borough Council is moving ahead with proposals to improve air quality in the borough.

The council’s executive board has approved the start of public consultation over a new Air Quality Action Plan.

The proposed 18-point plan aims to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels within the main, busy traffic routes leading into and around the town – and where possible to deliver wider improvements across Warrington.

Air quality is the largest environmental risk to the public’s health.  Poor air quality contributes to around 145 premature deaths each year in Warrington, and an estimated 50,000 nationally.  People most at risk include those who live near major roads, often in more deprived areas, older people and people with existing medical conditions.  Pollution peaks can make these health conditions worse, lead to increased hospital emissions and negatively impact on people’s quality of life.

While the majority of Warrington has good air quality, there are areas close to major roads that slightly exceed the national limit for nitrogen dioxide.

The action plan aims to supports the council’s work to protect Warrington’s environment, enhance the quality of air that we breathe and help improve the health of local people.

Executive board member for environment and public protection, Cllr Judith Guthrie, said: “Poor air quality can have a huge impact on people’s lives, and that’s why this is such an important plan for Warrington. It’s part of our commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents, now and in the future.

“Cleaner air in Warrington will benefit us all, so I would urge everyone to get involved in this consultation, have your say, and help us shape our action plan. We would especially welcome the views of people who are most impacted by poor air quality, such as those who live near major roads and our more vulnerable residents.”

The 18-point plan includes some firm, immediate actions, such as an increased focus on sustainable transport, encouraging cleaner fuels and electric vehicles, new cycling and walking links, and an intelligent transport system. Other proposed actions are to explore the potential for feasibility studies, such as looking into the potential of Clean Air Zones and workplace charging levies.

The action plan will run until 2022, and is expected to be a ‘live’, working document which will evolve over this time, through regular reviews.

Warrington’s Air Quality Action Plan has been developed following a comprehensive investigation by the council in 2016, which saw two areas identified as exceeding national pollution levels and being designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA). The action plan focuses primarily on these two areas; the Warrington AQMA – a geographical area in and around the town centre, and the Motorway AQMA.

The four-week consultation runs from 14 November to 15 December 2017. People can have their say and find out more information by visiting www.warrington.gov.uk, and selecting the ‘consultations’ page.

They can complete an on-line questionnaire and make comments on any additional actions they think should be considered.  Paper copies are available of the questionnaire if requested. The council will also be holding a public drop in event at Orford Jubilee Hub on 27 November, where the public can talk to members of the air quality team, get information and air their views.

At the end of the consultation, all comments received will be reviewed and if necessary the plan will be amended. Depending upon comments received, the finalised action plan is expected to be adopted by February 2018.

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