The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives including all at West Suffolk Council, but one good thing that has come out of it is a dramatic fall in air pollution.
West Suffolk Council monitor air quality at 70 locations across the district with most of these located in town and close to major roads.
Although it was anticipated that pollution would reduce during lockdown, the amount it has reduced by was not. New analysis shows that compared to the same period last year pollution levels were approximately 45 per cent lower across West Suffolk for April with the worst polluted sites being less than half of that recorded last year.
This comes at a time when a British Lung Foundation survey shows that around 16 per cent of people living with lung conditions in the UK said their symptoms have improved as a result of the fall in air pollution levels.
The UK government’s Clean Air Strategy from 2019 states that long-term exposure to man-made air pollution in the UK results in some 28,000 to 36,000 people a year dying earlier than they would have.
Although air pollution in West Suffolk is generally not as bad as in many large UK cities, improving air quality is still important locally.
West Suffolk Council already owns one of the largest council-owned solar farms in the country, producing renewable energy sold to the National Grid, while it has also been investing in other renewables including a ground source heat pump at West Stow. Both of these help the environment by reducing carbon emissions.
It has also been working with partners to secure greater infrastructure for electric vehicles, and prior to lockdown had begun a partnership with schools to clampdown on vehicle idling in targeted hotspots.
One of the worst areas of pollution in West Suffolk had been at Great Barton, but work with Suffolk County Council has seen this addressed through the moving of a crossing point from a built-up area, allowing air pollutants to disperse.
For West Suffolk business looking to lower their impact on air quality and move to zero emission electric vehicles there are a number of grants available, including the West Suffolk Greener Business Grant.
For further details please visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/environment