London-style clean air plan and town-wide pollution monitoring could come to Northampton

The Drapery was marked as a particularly severe area for air pollution.
The Drapery was marked as a particularly severe area for air pollution.

Town-wide measures that could one day see vehicles with high emissions having to pay to drive in certain areas of Northampton will be considered by councillors.

A proposal for a single air quality management area (AQMA) has been put forward after high levels of poisonous nitrogen dioxide were found across the town centre, particularly in The Drapery and the Northgate Bus Station.

The council is also bringing forward their low emissions strategy, which could see a Clean Air Zone similar to London created.

Councillor Mike Hallam, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Declaring a single AQMA in Northampton town centre is the most beneficial option to assist our plans for improving the air quality.

“The single area will mean we can tackle any issues in a joined-up manner and will avoid any potential pitfalls of moving problems around the town which adding more, smaller areas could bring.”

Northampton currently has 13 AQMAs established across the town.

It comes after a heatwave in 2016 briefly made Kingsthorpe the worst area for air pollution in the country.

A paper published in May 2017 also found air pollution causes one-in-20 deaths in Northampton.

Opposition leader Danielle Stone said: “I’m really pleased there is going to be a single AQMA for the town. It is a big step in the right direction.”

Clean Air Zones are currently only set up in major cities with high pollution levels. They aim to deter vehicles with high emissions from entering an area by charging them for entering or by limiting their access.

The proposals will be discussed in front of a Northampton Borough Council cabinet meeting on September 13.