Hundreds back plan to help Calderdale town blighted by air pollution

Sowerby Bridge
Sowerby Bridge

A Calderdale councillor has welcomed a pilot project to tackle air pollution which has blighted their ward for decades.

Councillors will consider an updated Air Quality Action Plan, which outlines the action the Council will take to improve air quality in Calderdale.

Although air pollution levels in Calderdale are generally in line with air quality objectives, the levels of nitrogen dioxide in some areas of the borough exceed annual averages at peak congestion periods.

One of these areas is Sowerby Bridge.

Labour Councillor for Sowerby Bridge, Adam Wilkinson, said: "Air pollution has blighted my ward for decades, so I am particularly pleased that work looks set to go ahead to pilot Sowerby Bridge as a Low Emissions Neighbourhood.

"This will mean new charging points for electric vehicles, increasing public awareness, working with schools and businesses, and improving local bus services.

"We've run a petition on air quality in Sowerby Bridge which has attracted over 500 signatures so far. It's clear that residents support the councils plans but want more action and resources from central government."

The Air Quality Action Plan will particularly focus on tackling levels of air pollution in the borough’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), which are areas identified by the Council where air quality objectives are not being achieved.

There are currently seven AQMAs in Calderdale, with an eighth area under consideration. All have been declared because of annual average levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The action plan, which will be discussed by Cabinet, identifies a number of specific actions to help tackle air pollution.

This includes supporting improvements in public transport; for example working with bus companies to reduce emissions and lobbying for improved rail services.

Innovative ideas to mitigate the effects of air pollution will also be explored, with an upcoming trial of a ‘green screen’ to absorb pollutants, planned at Burnley Road Academy in Mytholmroyd.

The plan is also part of the response to the Council’s recent declaration of a climate emergency.

One of the contributing factors to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels and the subsequent impacts on air quality.

Additional funding to support this work was also identified in the Council’s budget for 2019/20.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Coun Daniel Sutherland, said: “Improving air quality across the borough is a priority for the Council and the actions set out in the updated Air Quality Action plan would have a real impact on tackling air pollution.

‘Whilst the Council has an important role to play, our action alone won’t be sufficient to tackle the issue. We need the Government to give us the resources required if we are going to find a solution.

“It’s critical that we act now to raise awareness of this issue and encourage everyone to play their part in creating a greener future for Calderdale.”

The Air Quality Action Plan will be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet tonight (Monday) at Halifax Town Hall from 6pm.