Air quality in Thurrock still of grave concern

THE question of air quality is high on the agenda in Thurrock at the moment, especially around the current and proposed Thames crossings.

On Thursday (17 March) evening, Thurrock Council’s Cleaner, Greener, and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed creating two more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) in the borough.

Members of the cross-party committee were told how work carried out in 2013/14 led to concerns that there were problems with air quality in parts of Aveley and Purfleet.

Follow-up investigations confirmed the annual average air quality for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was likely to be above 40 micrograms per cubic metre and it was likely the EU Air Quality Objective would be exceeded in specific parts of Aveley – along part of the High Street and Ship Lane – and a smaller area along the Purfleet By-Pass was also likely be above the Objective.

The committee supported recommending to cabinet that two new Air Quality Management Areas – the borough’s 17th and 18th – be declared. Members also wanted to see cabinet offered a range of options to tackle the pollution so work could start quickly.

Committee chair, Cllr Roy Jones, said: “We have a legal duty to monitor the levels of pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, fine particles benzene, carbon monoxide and lead, and to tackle as best we can their effects.

“Thurrock Council can’t stop cars, vans, and lorries belching out pollutants – that’s a job for national and international governments – but we can do our best to reduce the threat and at least stop it getting worse.

“It’s not something that can happen overnight. Once we know there is a problem, we need to analyse it and work out the best we can do and then implement it. The first step is to identify the problem and we’ve done that.”

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