Air quality plan to address Swaffham pollution

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Council chiefs have agreed to step up their efforts to tackle air pollution levels in the heart of Swaffham.

A new air quality management area (AQMA) is to be declared in the town centre after proposals were approved at a Breckland Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.

District and county officials are now set to work together to find ways to reduce the problem.

The move comes in response to figures which showed levels of nitrogen dioxide in parts of the town centre have exceeded target levels in five of the last seven years.

Ahead of the meeting, district council leaders said the levels are not currently a cause for signficant concern.

But, although the figure for 2016 is not yet confirmed, officials believe it wll be the highest of all since 2010.

The new management zone will initially cover a 400 metre stretch of Station Street, between Cley Road and Spinners Street.

An action plan is now set to be drawn over the next 12 to 18 months.

Although previous discussions have taken place in relation to the area, officers’ report said county roads chiefs had sought to focus funding on locations where AQMAs had already been declared.

It said they were also keen to see whether work to dual the A11 had helped to divert traffic heading to the north of Norfolk away from Swaffham.

But it added: “Whilst that scheme doesn’t appear to have created any new problems for Swaffham, it hasn’t resulted in any noticeable reduction in through traffic.”

An assessment of the area has recommended further monitoring work is undertaken, including in the London Street area, to determine whether the AQMA should be extended or not.

It also calls for further traffic surveys to be carried out, along with a review of the current road network.

That primarily refers to the question of replacing the current traffic lights at the Station Street junctions with Mangate Street and Lynn Street with two mini-roundabouts, in a bid to reduce queuing.

It is estimated such a scheme could cost up to £250,000 to complete.