Spotlight on improving air quality as county-wide strategy launched

Suffolk County Council has set out its plan for improving air quality in Suffolk following results from a recent air quality survey, as its county-wide Air Quality Strategy is published.
Published: 24 May 2023

Air quality continues to be an important public health issue and a driver of health inequalities which disproportionately affects some of our most vulnerable residents in Suffolk.

The county council recently engaged with Suffolk’s residents about their thoughts on the impact poor air quality has on their quality of life. The survey received 338 responses and had a particular focus on Ipswich residents, because Ipswich makes up four of Suffolk’s eight Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). AQMAs are areas where national target levels of Nitrogen Dioxide are being exceeded.

Some of the results of the survey showed that there is a need to increase awareness about how residents can reduce pollution by reducing indoor burning of wood and coal, encouraging businesses to replace their fleet with low-emission or electric vehicles, reducing short journeys by car and considering more sustainable forms of transport such as walking, bike or bus. Vehicle idling when stationary is also a contributor to high levels of air pollution, an area the strategy will focus on going forward.

Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Ipswich, Operational Highways and Flooding, said:

“It is vital to ensure we are doing everything we can to tackle to problem of poor air quality across our county. The responses to our survey have given us a good starting point so that we can pinpoint particular issues to focus our efforts, however we want to continue this conversation with residents across Suffolk, especially those who live and work within the Air Quality Management Areas, or those who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.

“The county council has identified the importance of this issue and as such has ensured the close working of those working in health and those in highways and other related services. It is essential that we work together to tackle the issue of poor air quality in busy and built-up areas across our county.

“We are continuing to study the impact that traffic in urban areas is having on the air quality, and with this strategy will look to progress actions to ensure the quality of the environment is improved in years to come.”

A key element of the Air Quality Strategy is a public engagement plan which is being developed to increase public awareness of the health impacts of air quality in Suffolk, enabling individuals to make choices that protect both their health and the health of others from the harmful effects of pollution.

The delivery of the strategy will be closely monitored by the council to ensure it is accomplishing what it has set out to do. The strategy will also feed into the collective work of the Health and Wellbeing Board.