Air quality improves in east Suffolk - pollution action zones set to be removed

Combustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

Council officials say air pollution has improved in east Suffolk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Air quality has improved in east Suffolk - and two traffic hotspots are set to have their action status removed.

Environmental health chiefs designated roads in Woodbridge and Stratford St Andrew as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) because of pollution but say both are likely to be revoked very soon.

Stratford St Andrew was declared an AQMA in 2014 due to high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in Long Row.

In the past two years lower speed limits have been imposed on the A12 for traffic entering the village and the air has been monitored via diffusion tubes which are changed every month.

East Suffolk Council says the site is "showing reductions to sub‐threshold levels of NOx (oxides of nitrogen), we think, over and above the simple effect of Covid lockdowns". 

Action has also been taken at the Thoroughfare/Melton Hill traffic light junction in Woodbridge and the area has been monitored since an AQMA was imposed in 2006. Levels of NOx are now low enough for the AQMA to possibly be removed this year.

James Mallinder, Conservative cabinet member for the environment at East Suffolk Council

James Mallinder, cabinet member for the environment at East Suffolk Council - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Cabinet member for the environment James Mallinder said: "East Suffolk is a mainly rural district with pockets of concentrated urban centres.

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"Both urban and rural provide different challenges. Weaknesses in planning and highway considerations can fail to predict road pollution, causing a detrimental effect to our residents.

"East Suffolk believes clean air should be a fundamental right to all residents and through threading air quality considerations through policy implementation and development we believe we can maintain the quality of air and make improvements where necessary."

The council says it is important to reduce, where possible, public exposure to certain pollutants, even where levels are below the air quality objectives. This is especially important for fine particulate matter, where there are currently no known safe levels for exposure.

It says it takes air quality seriously and is "fortunate in that the air quality in our district generally exceeds the expectations set out by the Government", but the situation is continually monitored with action put in place to make further improvements wherever possible.