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Worst spots for air pollution in Ipswich revealed

PUBLISHED: 11:37 12 February 2019

Air pollution in Ipswich is a problem which opposition groups claim the borough council is not tackling seriously. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Air pollution in Ipswich is a problem which opposition groups claim the borough council is not tackling seriously. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Some of Ipswich’s most congested roads may be given management plans to tackle high pollution levels in the next few years, amid concerns that there is a lack or urgency to the borough council’s air quality strategy.

The borough council’s executive last week approved the air quality action plan with measures to promote car sharing, get people walking and cycling more, and bring back the Park and Ride in Bury Road.

Ipswich currently has five air quality management areas (AQMAs) – portions of the town where nitrogen dioxide levels are above the national level considered acceptable.

Those are located in:

• The junction of Norwich Road, Chevallier Street and Valley Road

The area where St Matthews Street meets Norwich Road is one section where an AQMA has been introduced. Picture: LUCY TAYLORThe area where St Matthews Street meets Norwich Road is one section where an AQMA has been introduced. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

• The junction of Peel Street, along Crown Street, St Margarets Street and St Helens Street to the junction with Palmerston Road, and from St Margarets Street up to Woodbridge Road

• The Star Lane, Key Street and College Street one-way system from the junction with Lower Orwell Street to the Bridge Street junction

• The Chevallier Street junction with Bramford Road and Yarmouth Road

• The Civic Drive roundabout with St Matthews Street and Norwich Road

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said the borough council was not takking its responsibility to tackle poor air quality as seriously as other local authorities. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said the borough council was not takking its responsibility to tackle poor air quality as seriously as other local authorities. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

While the new plans do not contain detail on areas of potential concern, it is understood congestion points such as those around Stoke Bridge, Wherstead Road, the Woodbridge Road junction with Heath Road, and the St Augustines roundabout could be areas to become AQMAs in the future.

It has led to opposition councillors raising their concerns.

Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “It seems as though we aren’t taking our responsibilities as seriously as we should be, and as seriously as other local authorities seem to be doing for their residents.

“The lack of any targets is not inspiring and creates totally the wrong impression at a time that IBC should rightly be taking the lead.”

Oliver Holmes said there was a lack of urgency with the council's air quality strategy. Picture: SIMON PARKEROliver Holmes said there was a lack of urgency with the council's air quality strategy. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Mr Fisher said the consultation featured lots of ideas coming forward, but criticised the council for only making one change following that period.

Liberal Democrat councillor Oliver Holmes said since central government had adopted its plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide levels in 2017, the council did not have a coherent strategy meaning it could not apply for funding grants from the government.

He added: “Nothing in there is researched or costed – they are just long term aims and objectives.

“There doesn’t seem to be any urgency to dealing with this.”

Alasdair Ross defended the council's strategy. Picture: LUCY TAYLORAlasdair Ross defended the council's strategy. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Mr Holmes said that “traffic modelling for Ipswich is for a significant increase in congestion,” meaning there could be more AQMAs on the way for busy roads.

But the council has defended its strategy, which includes a drive against engine idling, encouraging greener vehicles, reviewing traffic management arrangements and promoting public transport.

Alasdair Ross, portfolio holder for public protection, said: “We accept there are many factors outside our control but we want to work with our partners to take a lead on this.

“Improving air quality is vital for the health and wellbeing of residents and we want people to change the way they think and behave when it comes to making short journeys by car and instead consider walking, cycling or using public transport.”

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