Background to air quality in South Northamptonshire

South Northamptonshire's assessment of air quality concludes that the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide has been found to be close to the objective in areas adjacent motorways and trunk roads or in the case of Towcester town centre, exceeding the objective due to road traffic emissions.

In September 2005, we declared the A5 Watling Street through Towcester an air quality management area due to exceeding the annual objective for nitrogen dioxide. The air quality management area is greyed out in the map below:

Map of Towcester Air Quality Management Area

Further detailed modelling work was undertaken and an air quality action plan was drafted in 2007. Following consultation with the public, DEFRA, the Highway Agency, Northamptonshire County Council, and other relevant agencies, the air quality action plan for Towcester town centre was finalised in October 2008.

Whilst the A5 through Towcester carries relatively few vehicles, compared with the M1 or A43; the cause of the air quality exceedance on the A5 through Towcester is attributed to the slow moving through traffic on the A5, along with poor dispersion of pollutants due to the narrow road and high buildings. There is a local significant contributory factor of roadside and Market Square parking interrupting the smooth flow of traffic.

It has been noted from the road traffic statistics from Northamptonshire County Council and the Highway Agency that across South Northamptonshire there has been an increase in the percentage of heavy goods vehicles on the trunk roads besides an increase in traffic generally. It is also been noted nationally that diesel vehicles are emitting a higher fraction of primary nitrogen dioxide especially where particulate traps are fitted.

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