Air quality a ‘serious concern’ says Northampton councillor in charge of environment

The borough council is set to examine air quality in an upcoming meeting
The borough council is set to examine air quality in an upcoming meeting

Air quality in Northampton is a ‘serious concern’ but is ‘not a simple problem to solve’, according to the councillor in charge of the environment.

Making the town greener has taken on an added weight in the last couple of weeks following the borough council declaring a ‘climate emergency’ for the town.

And air quality is forming a big part of that push, and it was the primary concern of Labour councillor Rufia Ashraf as she asked Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Mike Hallam, what was being done to tackle it.

Cllr Ashraf wrote: “Air pollution is a serious concern. What is being done to reduce it in residential areas and in shopping centres?”

In his written response at full council on Monday June 3, Councillor Hallam said: “I agree that air quality is a serious concern. Unfortunately, it is not a simple problem to solve. Improving air quality requires actions from central government, a range of different partner agencies and individuals.

“We are continuing to progress with the implementation of the low emissions strategy. We have started the process to prepare for the installation of two rapid electric charging points for taxis. These have been funded by a grant from the office for low emissions vehicles. We are continuing our discussions with colleagues in highways and transportation. We are also using our planning powers to require installation of charging infrastructure in new development.”

The latest air quality report for 2018 found that overall, air quality within Northampton ‘seems to be improving’. However, there were some areas reporting consecutive high levels of nitrogen dioxide concentration with ‘no signs of improvement’. It is these areas where the report found that measures had ‘become ineffective’.

Councillor Ashraf also asked whether the council’s current air quality strategy was working, to which Councillor Hallam responded: “It is an area where lots of people share the same concerns and with that in mind I have arranged a meeting June 18th at 5pm at The Guildhall to review the draft air quality figures and actions we are are looking at this year. I have invited a range of people to this meeting including councillors, officers and members of the public who have both expertise and an interest in this area.”

The Northampton Low Emission Strategy looks at improving air quality up until 2025, and includes promoting lower emission vehicles to the town’s bus operators and taxi drivers amongst its targets.