Plans to cut Northampton's air pollutants could begin "imminently", says cabinet

Gridlock in the town has been blamed as a main contributor to Northampton's air pollutant problem.
Gridlock in the town has been blamed as a main contributor to Northampton's air pollutant problem.

A 'don't use the car for a day' initiative could soon arrive in Northampton as the borough council advances its plans to lower emissions in the town.

Northampton's cabinet member for housing said work to enact the upcoming low emissions strategy could begin "imminently" after recommendations to cut the town's air pollution were presented to the council last week.

It includes several suggestions to raise the public's awareness, such as live information boards that publish Northampton's air quality in real time and vouchers good for a week's trial of an electric car.

Northampton Borough Council's cabinet member for housing Mike Hallam said: “We are already working with partners to ensure new housing developments are included in bus routes and we will be moving forward with suggestions for raising awareness of the issues and what people can do to help shortly.

"Longer-term recommendations, such as providing charging points for electric cars in our car parks and trialling electric taxis, will need some further investigation and planning.”

It comes after a report published in May attributed one in 20 deaths in Northampton to air pollutants, and pointed to the diesel engine byproduct nitrogen dioxide as the leading cause.

The emissions strategy action plan, which was put to a full cabinet meeting on June 21, recommends a string of investigations and solutions to cut the town's air pollution output.

It includes proposals to move the entrance and exit of the Mayorhold Car Park, in Silver Street, to reduce congestion, establish a town-wide Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) to monitor Northampton's air pollution and introduce a park and ride.

But the Green Party's Steve Miller, speaking ahead of the meeting, said: "The emissions strategy lacks any timescales or a sense of priority. I don't get a sense of what the council is focussed on or when they plan to achieve anything.

"It's a step in the right direction, and the town needs a long-term environmental strategy. The plan is feasible and the efforts to make electric vehicles more available in the town really is a good idea.

"Unfortunately, much of the report is just promises to look into things. It doesn't say when, or how much it will cost, or what they will do first."

Deputy leader of the council Phil Larratt said the report would be discussed again "in the near future".