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‘Job not done’, says councillor as air quality improves in Swaffham

Latest figures show air quality in the centre of Swaffham has significantly improved.

Breckland Council highlighted nitrogen dioxide levels in the town centre dropped by 25 per cent during 2018 after a small area had been declared an Air Quality Management Area in May 2017.

The area immediately surronding a 400m stretch of Station Street between Cley Road and Spinners Street, did not meet national targets of having a maximum of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre.

Air quality in Swaffham has significantly improved, following steps taken by local councils
Air quality in Swaffham has significantly improved, following steps taken by local councils

But after collaboration between Breckland, Swaffham Town Council and Norfolk County Council, NO2 levels fell to an average of 30 mcg of NO2 per cubic metre in 2018.

Councillor Ed Colman, of Breckland and the county council, said it is not time to “sit back and put the feet up” as the councils continue to monitor the situation.

Mr Colman said: “Breckland had to form an opinion with county council to look at what we can do and one place we identified was the [Station Street] junction as a congestion pinchpoint.

“We need to keep traffic flowing to stop emissions from vehicles which stop and start. Possible areas of pedestrianisation are also being discussed.

Councillor Ed Colman
Councillor Ed Colman

“The council has done a lot of work with traffic modelling but we have to be realistic that the A1065 runs through the town and because of where it is located we will always get traffic.

"It is important to recognise we do not live in an age where everyone is able to walk to school or work. That is idealistic. Sadly that does not happen but it is the education of little things we can do in our everyday lives."

Breckland has previously run a UK Clean Air Day to raise collective awareness in the town.

Mr Colman said the district council will continue to work with the town's Transport and Access Focus Group to hear residents' concerns as well.

Town clerk Richard Bishop said: “The improved air quality result is good news for everybody in Swaffham.

“The town council look forward to working with our principal partners at Breckland and county council in order to ensure that the momentum continues to move in the right direction and takes account of the challenges presented to us all, by our expanding town.”

Councillor Ian Sherwood added: “The latest air quality readings are very positive news for the town’s residents and show the benefit of joined up working between the local authorities.

"We look forward to seeing further improvements over the coming months and years.”

Alison Webb, executive member for housing, health and environment at Breckland Council, added: “We are delighted that the town’s air quality has already seen a big improvement.

"The actions taken to date appear to have made a big difference and, with the assistance of our partner organisations, we will be seeking to build on this good progress going forward.

"We will keep up this momentum, for example several large housing planning applications in Swaffham have recently been reviewed and revised requirements relating to air quality have been requested from developers and rapid charging points in the council-owned Pedlars Car Park will soon make it easier for people to use electric cars in the town.”

But Dame Kate Gordon, chairwoman of the Traffic and Air Quality sub-committee, questioned the 25 per cent drop of NO2 levels.

She said: “I find it hard to understand. Cycling and walking is dangerous in this town with lorries constantly coming through.

"We are the only market town in the area with a large A road running through the town which is not a quick fix.

"I have not seen any data and what's more, they [Breckland] are talking about one little spot in Swaffham.

"If they are justified figures, that's ok but it is only one small area in the town. Lets have a proper survey of how the town is coping."

She added that London Street and Whitecross Road both have a large volume of traffic and are other areas of concern in the town.

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