Local levels of Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter remain below the national air quality threshold according to Wealden’s 2020 Air Quality Annual Status report.
“High levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution have become a problem in some cities,” said Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden Cabinet member for Community & Public Health.
“I am pleased to report this is not the case in Wealden. NO2 vehicle pollution has been a concern for the ecology of Ashdown Forest. These latest results for 2019 show a slight decline in pollution levels. They do not take into account an expected further dip in vehicle pollution levels which is likely to be seen due to the 2020 Covid restrictions.
“Working with Sussex Air, we also monitor levels of ozone pollution which can be more of a problem in rural areas. Warmer average temperatures due to climate change can exacerbate the situation.
“Residents who are affected by asthma and other respiratory ailments, and are concerned about the effects of ozone pollution, can check out sussex-air.net. This has the latest real time information about ozone levels . They can also sign up for the Sussex Air Alert Service.”
As road traffic is the main local source of NO2 pollution, air quality monitoring takes place at locations along the District’s main roads. All eight monitoring sites recorded a slight decline in annual mean NO2 levels between 2018 and 2019, the last year covered by the report. All readings were below 40 micrograms per cubic meter, the European air quality safety standard. Data from sites in Eastbourne are used as an indicative reference for particulate pollution in Wealden. These show that airborne particulates have remained well below UK air quality objectives.
High ozone levels can cause problems for asthma suffers and irritate the respiratory system as well as eyes, nose and throat. High levels are caused by a range of pollutants mixing in strong sunshine. This is more prevalent in rural areas. There are two ozone monitoring site in Wealden. The one at Isfield has shown a slight decline between 2011 and 2019. The other one, at Lullington near Alfriston, has shown a slight increase in annual mean concentrations. There are no national quality levels for ozone pollution.
The priorities for the coming year will be to continue to monitor air pollution levels and implement measures to increase sustainable travel options and improve the transport infrastructure. Assessments and mitigation measures for new developments, particularly those allocated around the main urban centres, will be carried out. The Council will also consider additional monitoring points in areas of new development.
Further information about air quality monitoring in Wealden and the latest air quality report can be found the Wealden website.