Pollution monitoring zone declared across Northampton to 'ensure the future of our town', council says

The red lines indicate the boundaries of the new AQMA. They stretch across the entire town centre.
The red lines indicate the boundaries of the new AQMA. They stretch across the entire town centre.

Northampton air quality problems have pushed the borough council to declare a town-wide monitoring scheme to track its pollution levels.

The new air quality management area (AQMA) was approved at a cabinet meeting yesterday (September 14) and will stretch across the whole town centre.

Illegal levels of the pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide have been recorded in the Drapery and by Northgate Bus Station.

Illegal levels of the pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide have been recorded in the Drapery and by Northgate Bus Station.

It comes after a recent study attributed one in 20 deaths in Northampton to air pollution, and illegal levels of the toxic diesel byproduct nitrogen dioxide were found around Northgate Bus Station, the Drapery and St James Road.

Northampton currently has 11 smaller AQMAs in high-pollutant areas like St James and London Road. But the borough council now sees fit to monitor the whole town.

A spokeswoman for Northampton Borough Council said: "The purpose of the AQMA is to ensure the future of our town through sustainable development and transport options.

"Monitoring will continue throughout but we’ll also review our current monitoring locations to assess if more are required. The results are reported on annually and that will continue as that’s the most effective way to produce comparative data.

"Where appropriate, we’ll be seeking funding to support some of the initiatives we intend to introduce, more details of which will be included in the final low emissions strategy."

Northampton Borough Council will need their plan formally ratified by DEFRA and open a town-wide consultation for businesses and residents to share their opinions.

Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dems) said: "The borough council is flitting around the issue and not addressing the problem.

"The problem is down to the Drapery, the bus station and the buses. Everyone knows the bus station is too small and in the wrong place. The polluted air is trapped in the corridor and trapped by the high buildings.

"Monitoring air pollution is not action. They need to build a proper bus station on the site of Greyfriars."

Northampton briefly had the worst air pollution in the country during a heatwave in 2016.