Joint action plan to tackle air quality in West Sussex

Air quality monitoring equipment
Air quality monitoring equipment

A joint action plan to improve air quality in West Sussex has been put together by local authorities across the county.

‘Breathing Better: a partnership approach to improving air quality in West Sussex’ highlights good practice already in place and areas where councils can work together to make a difference.

The document acknowledges that the county does not suffer the difficulties of large cities, but there are locations where average levels of pollution breach limits and where ongoing improvement in air quality is ‘particularly needed’.

A new inter-authority air quality group, made up of portfolio holders of each of the county and district authorities, is set to develop and oversee the action plan.

In a joint foreward Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, and Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Setting out an action-oriented plan of future activity, the plan is a living document that all partners are committed to reviewing and developing as we make progress.

“The issue of air quality cannot be tackled by councils alone.

“Ultimately many of the choices we make personally, while small, can add up to make a big difference.

“This can be as simple as turning off our car engine waiting at the lights or making more journeys on foot, by bike or on public transport.

“It can involve thinking about the impact of choices we make, big and small, about things we buy and consume.

“By doing this we can help to avoid simply exporting our problem somewhere else.

“This is very much the start of a journey and we look forward to working ever closer with our partners, our residents and our local businesses to make real improvements to the quality of life for our residents - and beyond.”

Areas where pollutants exceed, or are likely to exceed, Government health-based air quality objectives are declared as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).

District and borough councils are responsible for producing air quality action plans to demonstrate how it will improve air quality in the AMQAs.

Arun is the only district in West Sussex without a designated AQMA.

The three areas in Chichester are Orchard Street, St Pancras, and the Stockbridge roundabout.

Horsham’s AQMAs are in Storrington and Cowfold.

Meanwhile Worthing has an AQMA stretching from the Offington Corner roundabout to the Lyons Farm business park.

Adur has two, one covering Shoreham High Street and the other in Old Shoreham Road, Southwick, east of the junction with Kingston Lane.

Mid Sussex’s one AQMA centres on the Stonepound Crossroads in Hassocks, while Crawley’s centres on the Hazelwick roundabout.

As all the air quality problems in all the AQMAs in West Sussex are related to traffic the county council, as the highways authority, has a statutory responsibility to work with the district and boroughs to develop and deliver action plans.

Action areas include introducing more low emission vehicles, traffic management to keep traffic flowing smoothly, sustainable transport infrastructure, encouraging behavioural change, furthering health and wellbeing, developing planning guidance and promoting travel planning for schools and businesses.

Work in many of these areas is already underway across West Sussex.

The councils are not just looking at statutory levels of pollution but also how they can improve background emissions of pollutants, as many can cause health effects below the UK air quality objectives.

The air quality group is set to meet quarterly with the joint action plan reviewed on an annual basis.

The group will highlight issues or concerns to the West Sussex leaders’ board.

Partnership working with the national and Highways England would continue.