Guest blog by Generation Zero Carbon Shropshire:
In response to 2021 air pollution levels in Shrewsbury approaching or exceeding the national UK average, several initiatives and projects are in place to monitor and reduce air pollution in the town centre.
Earthsense real-time pollution map
To aid public information and education regarding air pollution, air quality monitoring specialist EarthSense worked in tandem with Shropshire Council to produce a real-time pollution map recording NO2 and solid particulate levels in Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth. The map uses Zephyr sensors placed at four locations around the town – Frankwell, Murivance, Town Walls and Shrewsbury Train Station – in conjunction with EarthSense’s MappAir city model. Take samples of the surrounding air every 10 seconds and provide a real-time visual representation of air quality.
NO2 30% above National levels in Shrewsbury
Air pollution is a major environmental threat to public health, and is estimated to contribute to between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths in the UK. Shrewsbury Town Centre is currently one of the Shropshire Council’s two major Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), the other being Bridgnorth. The development of EarthSense’s pollution map follows the Shropshire Council’s Air Quality Annual Status Report in December 2020. This report concluded that the Shrewsbury Town Centre AQMA was still required after the Castle Foregate monitoring station detected nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels exceeding the national objective levels by around 30%. However, the recorded residential NO2 level of 52 µg/m3 (micrograms per metre) did represent a slight decrease from the 2014 value of 53.6 µg/m3.
Shrewsbury North West Relief Road
Other initiatives to reduce air pollution in Shrewsbury include the proposed development of the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road. This project received Central Government funding to reduce traffic passing through the AQMA hotspot. The SNWRR is one aspect of the ‘Making Movement Better’ project that was established in 2019 as part of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan. Pledging to promote sustainable growth in Shrewsbury. Through reducing traffic and promoting public transport, pedestrian routes and cycling.
However, the road itself has been reported as receiving a ‘record-breaking number’ of over 3,000 objections. Primarily based on potential damage to natural oak tree woodlands (including the 550-year-old ‘Darwin’s oak’). In addition its potential reliance on a pre-pandemic business model and lack of consideration for other solutions to Shrewsbury’s traffic issue. – Since this guest blog was written, even more objections have been received and the project is yet to be confirmed. For the latest updates follow the facebook group Road to Ruin Shropshire.
EarthSense’s press release hopes that the real-time pollution map: “will enable businesses and residents to identify local air quality levels, helping them to make informed decisions on methods of travel or alternative routes to reduce pollution exposure”.
Thank you to Generation Zero Carbon Shropshire for this guest blog.
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