£240k boost for air quality monitoring

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Real-time public alerts on local air quality incidents are just one of the new air quality monitoring services set for areas in Worcestershire, after a bid for government funding was successful.

The bid for over £240,000, made to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by all six Worcestershire district councils in the autumn, was revealed as successful last week (Feb 9).

It means the money will now be available to pay to install upgraded continuous air quality monitors at various locations in the county. The monitors will enable real-time public health alerts and information about poor air quality episodes to be issued, to help more people understand how to reduce pollution and exposure to pollution.

The monitors will also produce significantly better data that will help local authorities drive improved air quality policies to help mitigate the sources of pollution.

Bromsgrove District, Redditch Borough, Malvern Hills District, Worcester City, Wychavon District, and Wyre Forest District councils joined forces for the bid using their shared service for the delivery of environmental health and licensing services, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS).

Councillor Tony Rowley from Wychavon District Council, who currently chairs the Worcestershire Regulatory Services Board, said: "The team worked very hard to put this bid together and the Board and partners are very pleased with the outcome. We will now be looking for the best locations in the county where changing people's behaviour could have a quick impact on the pollution levels in the short term.

"This will significantly upgrade our services' current capability, which in most areas is only routine long-term nitrogen dioxide monitoring. The enhanced monitoring will not only add particulate matter, another pollutant created by road vehicles alongside nitrogen dioxide, but also allow real-time alerts and targeted campaigns."

In Worcester, the City Council's Environment Committee has already supported the use of £7,000 over two years as its contribution to match-funding for the Government investment. This will allow for real-time monitoring of air quality in the city, so that residents and visitors can be encouraged to change their behaviour to reduce air pollution.

Councillor Andy Stafford, Chair of Worcester City Council's Environment Committee, said: "We are very pleased that the Government has awarded this funding for the introduction of real-time air quality monitoring in Worcester. It will help to raise awareness of the impact of poor-quality air in our city and potentially save lives.

"We will be using this funding to purchase portable air quality monitors that can be used in different locations across Worcester to build up a more detailed picture of the hot spots for Nitrogen Dioxide and other pollutants – and to communicate that information to the public in real time.

"The hope is that that information can be used as the basis for encouraging people to change the way they behave so that they pollute less and help to make Worcester a better, cleaner and healthier place to live." 

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