03/05/18: Draft Air Quality Action Plan for Swaffham approved

3 May 2018

Breckland Council's Cabinet has approved a draft Swaffham Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), which sets out measures to help improve air quality in the town centre. The plan was discussed at a Cabinet meeting this week (Tuesday, 1 May) and was previously discussed at the council's Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

A small area in the centre of Swaffham was advised as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in May 2017.  Breckland Council want to ensure that as the town develops and thrives the air quality is constantly at an acceptable level for its residents, businesses and visitors.

A Steering Group of Breckland and partner organisations, led by Cllr Peter Wilkinson, was formed to develop a draft AQAP to help come up with solutions that will improve the air quality in this area. The Group was keen to listen to the views of local people and almost 200, including residents, visitors, traders, schoolchildren, local councillors and community groups, took part in the consultation earlier this year.

Feedback showed a high level of support for all the proposed measures in the draft AQAP - these included potential changes to road layouts, encouraging cycling and car-share, education in schools and considering air quality impacts when determining planning applications. All fourteen measures were supported by at least three quarters of respondents, with over half of the measures being backed by over 90% of those who took part.

Since the consultation ended in February officers in Breckland have been compiling results, gathering further data and structuring recommendations against the fourteen measures, all of which has informed the draft AQAP plan. 

Cllr Alison Webb, Breckland Council Executive Member for People and Information said: "I would like to thank Cllr Wilkinson who led the working party, Swaffham District and Town Councillors for their support, as well as the residents, organisations and other participants who were involved in the consultation for their helpful input. We were pleased to learn that there is such a high level of local support and the feedback received has been used to refine some of the action points within the draft plan.

"Some measures, such as taking air quality into account when determining planning applications, will be Breckland's responsibility; however others, such as changes to improve traffic flow, will need to be investigated and addressed by Norfolk County Council (NCC) as the responsible authority. Breckland will continue to work closely with NCC to push these measures forward and ensure they are scheduled as a priority. Although it will be a long process, and there's no quick solution, this decision is another step towards improving air quality in this section of the town."

Following the Cabinet decision, officers at the council will forward the draft AQAP to statutory consultees, including the Environment Agency, NCC, neighbouring authorities and other interested parties before the document is submitted to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the early autumn.