South Kesteven air quality action plan criticised by Grantham councillors

Traffic queues on Manthorpe Road entering Grantham. EMN-160128-100220001
Traffic queues on Manthorpe Road entering Grantham. EMN-160128-100220001
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An Air Quality Action Plan for the district has been approved, despite concerns expressed by councillors over whether it will have an effect.

It follows three Grantham areas being identified as having exceeded air quality objectives in 2014 – Manthorpe Road, Brook Street and Wharf Road.

Before the action plan was approved by South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet on Monday, ward councillor Ray Wootten addressed the meeting. He said: “In summer you can taste the diesel fumes caused by cars, buses and lorries.”

He added: “Within this paper I see nothing that will see a change in pollution levels in one year or five years. Traffic is increasing and so is pollution, a fact that cannot be ignored.”

Coun Wootten is particularly concerned by the additional impact on pollution levels if 550 homes are built off the Manthorpe estate, as is proposed by Allison Homes, part of Larkfleet Group. Results from monitoring nitrogen dioxide, the key pollutant, using diffusion tubes at 37 sites across South Kesteven, revealed the worst levels in the district were recorded along the A607 Manthorpe Road.

“This report talks of ifs, buts and maybes, but it is just another paper to accept more homes in Grantham and in particular on the Manthorpe estate,” said Coun Wootten.

In response, Anne-Marie Coulthard, business manager for environmental health at SKDC, said: “Technological improvements in the main are reducing pollution levels. More and more cars are fitted with stop-start technology.”

The action plan set out 10 key measures that SKDC, in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council’s highways department, intends to implement in order to reduce pollution levels.

These include changing traffic light sequencing to help reduce congestion, identified as a key cause of higher nitrogen dioxide levels; improving bus fleet emissions by acquiring more eco-friendly buses; and encouraging town centre visitors and regular Manthorpe Road users such as schoolchildren to use alternative forms of transport instead of cars.

Plans are also being made to provide an improved cycling infrastructure, and ‘No Idling’ signs as a deterrent. In addition, the report states that the new relief road is expected to alleviate traffic problems.

However, prior to the meeting, this was challenged by Coun Charmaine Morgan. “The proposal to introduce significant numbers of new homes to Grantham, both in the southern and northern quadrants, will have a negative impact on the air quality of the town and will not be mitigated by the new southern quadrant relief road,” she said.

“With up to 7,000 more new homes planned to be built we can anticipate anything from a few thousand to 20,000 more cars in the Grantham area.”