An air quality campaigner has questioned why a Derbyshire town with the county’s worst pollution hotspot was overlooked for a 20mph speed limit zone.
Derbyshire County Council says the 20mph zone it is looking to bring in for Buxton and Long Eaton’s town centres are, in part, aimed at tackling environmental concerns.
However, in February 2022, during an assessment of ways in which the crippling air quality issues in a part of Ashbourne could be tackled, the council had said it was focusing 20mph zones on areas with an “evidenced casualty issue”.
In full, the county council had said: “The council’s guidance currently only prioritises a sparingly introduction of 20mph zones where they are primarily focused on tackling an evidenced casualty issue, rather than for environmental reasons.”
A year later, pushing for 20mph zones in Buxton and Long Eaton, the council said the projects “provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on the urban environment”.
The council says it hopes this will also reduce carbon emissions, reduce congestion and promote more physical activity.
Cllr Kewal Singh Athwal, cabinet member for highways and transport, hoped the zones “could improve health by improving air quality”.
An area of Ashbourne, focused on the Buxton Road hill out of the town centre, was formally declared an “air quality management area” in April 2021, with legal obligations to tackle the harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide.
Peter Dobbs, Ashbourne resident, who has been campaigning on air pollution in the town since 2017, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said: “It is good news that the County Council are now seeing the light on the value of 20mph speed limits.
“However it is a great pity that they have chosen not to extend their ‘trial’ to our town that is crying out for action to improve air quality as well as pedestrian safety.
“A speed limit is unlikely to provide a complete solution to the pollution problem but it would certainly make life better for residents of the town centre who are woken by trucks speeding along Mayfield Road, Church Street and Buxton Road early in the morning.”
A county council spokesperson said: “Cabinet is being asked to approve a consultation for two pilot Greener Town initiatives at a meeting on Thursday (January 12). Buxton and Long Eaton are being suggested as pilot towns for a variety of reasons.
“Should cabinet agree with this approach we can evaluate this initiative before deciding if this is something we could extend to other towns in Derbyshire, including Ashbourne.”
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