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Elmbridge's plan to improve air quality

Elmbridge's plan to improve air quality

Tackling air pollution in Elmbridge

Last night (17 November 2021) at a meeting of Elmbridge Borough Council’s Cabinet, the Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) was approved and will then be submitted to DEFRA for their final ratification.

The health and wellbeing of Elmbridge residents is of paramount importance to the borough council and air pollution is a key contributor to poor health especially in vulnerable residents and those with heart and respiratory issues.

The report sets out five priorities to tackle air pollution in Elmbridge up to 2026. It outlines a range of actions to meet these priorities under the following five key themes:

1. Reducing emissions from traffic

As expected, traffic emissions are the main contributor to poor air quality in the borough. Reducing car journeys in favour of walking or cycle will most certainly help and the report accepts that we need to work with our Highways Authority (Surrey County Council) to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in Elmbridge as a priority.

More electric vehicles will also contribute to a reduction of carbon emissions and the council is committed to the installation of more electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the borough. Most recently EV chargers were installed in the Hollyhedge car park in Cobham and more are planned for Drewitts Court car park, Walton on Thames, Churchfields car park, Weybridge, and the main car park in Esher. The Xcel Leisure complex will install EV charges in the first few months of 2022.

2. Buildings and new development

Air quality policies will be embedded within the emerging Local Plan to ensure new buildings are designed with air quality in mind, but we will also work with owners of existing buildings on improving air quality.

3. Monitoring

We currently monitor nitrogen dioxide levels within our six Air Quality Management Areas. Monitoring informs the actions we need to take. Particulates are highlighted as a significant pollutant going forward and a key action within the action plan is to install a particulate monitor in the borough in early 2022, as well as reminding people of the damaging particulates produced by wood-burning stoves and bonfires.

4. Raising awareness

We are working with our partners in the Surrey Air Alliance to inform, persuade and encourage behaviour change in our borough to help residents and businesses make the best decisions for themselves and their community. We aim to do this through our communications campaigns and a continuing educational programme in schools.

5. Lobby and partnership working

We will advocate on behalf of Elmbridge residents around the county and the country. We will continue to lobby for funding to support cycling and walking, electric vehicle infrastructure, as well pushing for stronger national policies to improve air quality.

Cllr Ashley Tilling, Portfolio Holder for the Environment at Elmbridge Borough Council is determined to bring improvements in Elmbridge’s air quality centre stage:

“Improving air quality in Elmbridge is vitally important. Many people in our borough, are reliant on cars but we need to persuade them that there are the alternatives of walking, cycling and public transport. I understand many of our residents are dissatisfied with the walking and cycling infrastructure locally and, as part of this plan, we will work with our partners to make cycling or walking an easier and safer option.

“Through the installation of electric vehicle chargers and air quality monitoring stations, as well as informational and educational campaigns, our work to improve air quality in Elmbridge is underway and our commitment, as set out in this report, is strong.”

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