Key town route to introduce parking ban in bid to reduce high pollution levels
A key road in Sudbury, which has been notorious for high pollution levels, is introducing a parking ban as part of efforts to improve air quality in the town.
Six parking bays in Cross Street are being removed from public use for a period of 18 months in January to address an excessive level of nitrogen dioxide in the road, after it was designated as an air quality management area in 2011.
As part of a joint air quality action plan between Babergh District Council and Suffolk County Council, the scheme aims to significantly reduce pollution levels by removing the need for motorists to slow down, queue or accelerate, in order to give way to oncoming traffic.
Praising the initiative, Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “I welcome this work to explore a significant reduction in pollution on Cross Street, which has been a long-standing issue within the town.
“It is not acceptable that the level of nitrogen dioxide exceeds the national health standard; something needs to be done for local residents and pedestrians, which also includes many families walking to the nearby primary school.”
Following a review into air quality and traffic solutions in the town, Michael Holt, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, highlighted the importance of reducing the pollution levels.
“We know the main issue is focused on two small sections of the street where short-stay parking bays cause a narrowing effect on the road and a concentration in pollution, which is why we’re exploring whether the air quality can be improved by removing the bays,” he said.
Babergh District Council’s Green group leader Robert Lindsay, however, criticised both authorities for prolonging the action, arguing the high pollution levels were highlighted nearly a decade ago.
“I find it amazing and shameful that, even though the area was found to breach legal limits eight years ago, this is the first concrete action the two councils have taken,” he said.
“I fully support the removal of these car parking spaces, given that the council’s experts tell us that a big part of the build-up of toxic NO2 pollution in Cross Street is being caused by vehicle engines idling while motorists wait their turn to get past parked cars.
“However, it should be part of a package of solutions to aid congestion and pollution in Sudbury.”
While recognising the benefits of the scheme, Cllr Lindsay (pictured) has warned that motorists may feel more inclined to increase their speed.
“Although the removal of parking spaces should mean lower levels of toxins in the air, it will mean that vehicles will inevitably go faster along that road and that will, to some extent, make life more unpleasant for residents of Cross Street,” he said, adding that the Green party has recommended introducing a 20mph speed limit in the town.
The scheme will be reviewed at six and 12-month intervals, with the overall results expected to be published in the summer of 2021, which will help to form a decision on whether the measures should be made permanent.