Council records improvements in air qualityPublished Tuesday 15 November 2022
Air pollution levels are continuing to improve in the Harborough district.
The Air Quality Annual Status Report 2022, published by Harborough District Council, shows that in 2021 there were no exceedances of the national air quality objectives recorded in the Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) in Lutterworth and Kibworth. There are also no new areas in the district which are considered to breech air quality standards.
It is the fourth year running since the declaration of the AQMA in Lutterworth in 2001 that the annual Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) results have not exceeded the annual mean air quality standard.
Monitors in Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt did not record any exceedances of air quality objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide or Particulate Matter during 2021.
Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer, and air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society such as children, older people and those with existing heart and lung conditions.
Fewer cars on the road during the national lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 are considered to have contributed to the improved air quality position, but the extent to which this improvement will be sustained is not yet known.
Other factors that are thought to have contributed are the HGV gating system, which allows a greater free flow of lorries through Lutterworth by controlling the traffic light sequencing, and the increased use of electric vehicles. Up to June 2022 there were 1,447 plug-in electric vehicles registered in Harborough District of which 491 were privately owned.
Whilst the air quality in the Harborough district is generally good, two Air Quality Management Areas were declared in the district – in Lutterworth in 2001, and in the Kibworths in 2017 – due to levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeding the annual mean air quality objective.
As part of the air quality monitoring undertaken by the Council, there is a network of diffusion tubes at 34 sites across the district. In the last year, none of these have showed any exceedances of the air quality objectives. In addition to the diffusion tubes, the Council monitors air quality using a reference monitor and a mobile device.
Cllr Jonathan Bateman, Harborough District Council’s lead on air quality, said: “The sustained improvement to air quality in Lutterworth is excellent news and the lower levels of air pollution that were recorded in the Kibworths in 2021 is really encouraging.
“Whilst national lockdowns have contributed to lower levels of air pollution, we must all do our bit to keep air pollution levels down in our district. The council is continuing to install more electric vehicle charge points and the Lutterworth Town Centre Masterplan looks to maximise opportunities to create more cycle facilities and improve opportunities for walking and cycling.”
The Council said further monitoring for a number of years would be required before it has sufficient evidence to revoke the Air Quality Management Areas.
This year, following funding from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Council has been working with North West Leicestershire District Council and air quality consultants to monitor the impact of Particulate Matter (PM2.5) from the burning of solid fuel and to encourage behaviour change to improve local air quality. An update will be included in the next Annual Status Report covering 2022.
Councillors considered the Annual Status Report, based on air quality data from 2021, at a Harborough District Council Cabinet meeting on 14 November 2022.
Find out more about air quality in the Harborough district and view live air quality updates at www.harborough.gov.uk/airquality
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