The Council issued its statutory report on air pollution for 2020 (actually covers 2019 and is dated June 2020) which is accessible from its page:
Basingstoke Clean Air Campaign has reviewed it and notes the following points:
- 12 sites commenced monitoring air quality in 2017 (including in Bramley and Chineham but mostly on busy roads in the town) of which two have now ceased and 10 sites started being monitored in 2019.
- March 2018 BDBC received Ministerial Direction to undertake targeted feasibility study into NO2 compliance between A339/A33 and Black Dam roundabouts.
- BDBC installed two new diffusion tubes at sites 57 and 58 beside the A339 in 2018
- Levels of NO2 found to be significantly lower than expected and met EU standard on public footpath but marginally exceeded on carriageway
- Despite these results, DEFRA required further work to explore ways of reducing vehicle emissions here.
- This further work indicated that reducing speed limit from 70mph to 50mph may achieve desired NO2 reductions.
- Oct 2018 further Ministerial Direction issued to both BDBC and HCC.
- Council submitted evidence to DEFRA that air quality did not breach exposure levels and no need for speed limit to be lowered.
- Government Direction was withdrawn in July 2019.
- There is no Air Quality Action Plan or Air Quality Strategy though BDBC ‘has taken forward several initiatives in 2019 to pursue improving local air quality’ (Clean Air BDBC campaign, stickers, work with local schools on vehicle idling, electric vehicle charging hub, key themes in local plan, consultation on transport strategy);
- Attitude for the future is ‘we don’t need any Air Quality Management Areas as annual NO2 objectives are not being exceeded anywhere, we will carry on monitoring and do something if we find a problem. It’s up to individuals to minimise their use of cars, bonfires, coal and wood burning stoves’.
With an all-out election coming in May we encourage readers to ask the candidates about their plans to reduce air pollution in the Borough. In particular, we should like to know how “business as usual” after the pandemic can be restored while keeping whatever air quality benefits the lockdowns have had (which will be evident in the “2021” report).