Air quality management area set to be declared

An Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is set to be declared at an area of Victoria Avenue close to the junctions with Priory Crescent, East Street and West Street.

Civic Centre, trees outside and sky

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s cabinet (item 19, 15 September 2020) will discuss the declaration of the AQMA (see map) following a detailed assessment of nitrogen dioxide levels which have been found to exceed a national air quality objective. The results of monitoring confirmed an annual mean nitrogen dioxide level of 51 µgm3 which is above the annual mean of 40 µgm3.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Air quality levels are directly linked to human activity so whilst the Council has a number of policies and a real commitment to encourage shifts to cleaner transport modes and to walking and cycling, there is also the need for individuals and employers to consider how they and their employees travel to work. We will continue to work with businesses and local people to help achieve this.

“Although Southend-on-Sea does enjoy good air quality, and more people are now working from home, there are traffic hotspots giving rise to unacceptable levels of air quality in those specific areas, and this has become a serious public health concern for many cities and large towns throughout the UK.”

“The Council produced and adopted an Air Quality Action Plan back in June 2018. This was as a result of declaring its first AQMA along a stretch of the A127, Hobleythick Lane and Rochford Road (The Bell Junction) in 2016. The action plan will therefore be reviewed to take into consideration this second AQMA.

“It is being recommended that the boundary of the AQMA is extended to where readings are 36µgm3 and not actually exceeding the national air quality objective. Where a property is partially within that boundary it is included within the AQMA. Therefore, residential and business properties are included within the AQMA, along with a school, but it is important to note that the highest levels recorded are only very close to the main road and on the main road itself where traffic is sometimes queued. 

“Residents and businesses should be aware that these levels reduce substantially as you move away from the road, and also depend on the time of day. During “rush hour” levels will be at their highest and the time of year also affects potential pollution levels.

St Mary’s Prittlewell Church of England primary school, which is in into the outer section of the management area being considered, has also confirmed its commitment to improving air quality for its’ pupils. The school are encouraging environmental responsibility through their curriculum as well as participation in National Clean Air Day which is held this year on 8 October.

Work at The Bell junction also started this month and it is expected that this work, along with other measures, will contribute to improving local air quality. Nitrogen Dioxide has a known harmful effect on human health and the environment, and road transport is the major source of air pollution in the UK

The declaration is to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on 15 September 2020.

Residents in the AQMA area have been written to.

There are over 700 AQMAs in the UK, and 90% of these are related to traffic emissions. There are several in Essex, including Rayleigh town centre, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Thurrock and Brentwood and some London Boroughs are designated entirely as air quality management areas.

For more information on AQMA’s, please visit our Air Quality pages.

Published: 10th September 2020

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