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Fresh public consultation in the works for proposed measures to address long-standing pollution issues at Cross Street in Sudbury

Cross Street pollution. (8709850)
Cross Street pollution. (8709850)

A fresh public consultation on parking arrangements in Cross Street in Sudbury is in the pipeline, as local authorities consider how to tackle the long-standing pollution problems in the road.

Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council are reviewing proposals to remove a number of parking bays from the street, where excessive nitrogen dioxide levels from vehicle emissions have been recorded.

The street is known for being in frequent use by articulated lorries and HGVs, but two past consultations have seen residents oppose the removal of any parking bays.

The measure has been considered as part of Babergh’s air quality action plan – developed in partnership with Suffolk Highways and other relevant agencies – to try to address the specific air quality issues that are related to Cross Street’s “narrow, canyon-like” layout.

The authorities have argued that the bays create pinch points where traffic becomes congested and is also forced to use one side of the road, resulting in the build-up of exhaust fumes outside certain homes, where they do not have enough room to disperse.

Previous air quality assessments have found that, outside select homes in Cross Street, as well as nearby Ballingdon Street, the annual mean average concentration of nitrogen dioxide has reached as high as 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

This figure is well above the district council’s stated annual average objective of 40 micrograms.

Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to a number of chronic diseases, including asthma, heart disease and bronchitis, and has also been found to cause inflamed airways and other respiratory problems.

A joint statement issued on behalf of Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council said: “We routinely monitor air quality in Cross Street.

“We know the main issue is focused on two small sections of the street, where two short-stay parking bays cause a narrowing effect on the road and a concentration in pollution.

“We have worked together to produce an action plan, aiming to reduce pollution where it exceeds the national targets.

“The action plan and air quality assessments are available on Babergh District Council’s website.

“There are plans to re-consult on a proposal to remove the bays.”

The proposals come after data from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that air pollution contributed to five in every 100 deaths of people aged 30 and over in Suffolk in 2017 – a figure which is largely in line with the national level.

The proportion of deaths linked to exposure to air pollution has remained steady in Suffolk since 2010.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for greater Government funding for councils to help combat pollution and improve public transport.

Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: “We need to be able to live in safe communities, which includes making sure the air we breathe is as free from pollution as possible.

“If the Government’s air quality plans and any new local powers are to be successful, they need to be underpinned by local flexibility and sufficient funding, which needs to be addressed in the spending review.

“Councils also need local powers, particularly with regard to traffic offences, government support on planning and transport matters, and robust national action to help the country transition to low-emission vehicles and power generation.”

For further information about the air quality assessments and the action plan for Cross Street in Sudbury, go online to www.babergh.gov.uk/environment/air-quality.

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