Knaresborough councillors have reinforced the need to tackle air pollution in the town ‘quickly’ and effectively after a public consultation defining the area in need of management has been opened.
Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) is proposing to declare two new Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) at York Place in Knaresborough and Wetherby Road in Harrogate.
The council has invited residents and businesses in both areas to have their say over how big the management areas should be in the two towns.
But Councils are obligated by DEFRA to monitor the levels of nitrogen dioxide and ensure that they do not exceed the objectives set out in the National Air Quality Strategy.
But since last year, York Place resident and Knaresborough Town Councillor, James Monaghan has been calling for HBC to declare an AQMA at the junction where the nitrogen dioxide levels have been ‘unacceptable’ for some time.
He said: “It is about time. HBC have been doing everything they can to avoid declaring an AQMA and creating an action plan to tackle air pollution at York Place.
“They have a pollution sensor outside one building on York Place and the pollution there is an unacceptable level but it would be naive to think it is just outside that building and that air pollution levels are lower everywhere else.
“My view is the whole of York Place should be included in the AQMA.”
The council has put forward three area options as part of the consultation over York Place.
The first option includes the majority of the road but not houses numbered 21-27, while the other two options include managing only one side of the road or just two properties where the pollution sensor is located.
Mr Monaghan said: “York Place is characterised by tall Georgian buildings right the way up that footpath, so the air pollution is canyoned all the way up the road, so any action needs to tackle that whole block.”
However Councillor Phil Ireland, HBC’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport, said declaring an AQMA was a positive step and that work to improve air quality has already been taking place.
He said: “Declaring an Air Quality Management Area is a positive step to improving local air quality.
“An AQMA is not needed for us to take action and we have been working with other organisations, such as North Yorkshire County Council, to put measures in place to tackle air pollution.
“The council has followed government guidance as part of the process of declaring an AQMA at York Place, and the timescale has enabled us to conduct detailed assessment and monitoring over a meaningful period of time. This has ensured that informed decisions and planning can take place.
Coun Ireland explained that pollution levels at properties 21 – 27 York Place “are below the national objective level” and the junction at Isles Lane “was seen as a sensible cut off point”.
He said options B and C which consider much smaller areas, were put forward as alternatives, “where modelling and monitoring results have shown areas of concern”.
Coun Ireland said that the action plan for York Place will cover all AQMAs which have been declared as well as focusing on other areas where pollution levels are becoming a cause for concern.
He said: “The purpose of the Action Plan is to identify what measures should be taken to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide. This has a far reaching impact by also improving local air quality in areas surrounding the AQMA.
Coun Ireland encouraged everyone to have their say in the public consultation which runs until Sunday August 13.