The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has just approved Torridge’s latest air quality report, which shows that the air quality across the District’s 380sq miles is well below nationally set levels for harmful pollutants.
Pollution can be a significant contributor to poor health and is often associated with the onset of heart disease and cancer. The main pollutant affecting air quality is usually nitrogen dioxide, which is produced by petrol and diesel vehicles. However, even in the worst hotspot in Torridge, the recorded average of around 28 parts per billion (ppb) sits well below the national target figure of 40 ppb.
Despite this achievement, the Council is continuing to press ahead with its climate change agenda and is determined to improve air quality further through its own operations and by encouraging businesses and households to follow this lead as well.
Some of the Council’s recent initiatives include the purchase and introduction of an electric van and a street sweeper, and encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles by introducing charging points at key locations across the District. The Council has also joined a national staff scheme which incentivises cycling to work and in lieu of travelling by car. The installation of solar panels on some of its buildings has helped reduce pollution from fossil fuels use while further opportunities are being actively investigated as part of the Council’s carbon reduction plan.
Councillor Peter Hames, Lead Member for Climate Change, said: “This is once again great news for Torridge, but we can’t rest on our laurels and we need to act urgently in tackling and reducing the impact of climate change. Residents and businesses can help by considering electric vehicles when replacements are due, or by walking or cycling on shorter journeys instead of taking the car. Other measure such as not lighting bonfires, insulating premises and buildings better, and using cleaner fuels will also help. Any small changes and improvements we can make personally can have a big impact.’