Published: Wednesday, 5th August 2020

Figures published this month show that air quality in towns and villages across the Harrogate district have improved by 12 per cent on average.

Of the 50 locations tested across the district in 2019 (January to December), 46 have decreased compared to the previous year, some by more than 20 per cent.

The borough council has declared four air quality management areas (AQMA's) that have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide than other areas. These are at Bond End and York Place in Knaresborough, Low and High Skellgate in Ripon and Wetherby Road in Harrogate.

In 2019, these AQMAs had decreased by 13 per cent on average, with three now below the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide.

Councillor Phil Ireland, cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said: "It's encouraging to see these figures improving and nitrogen dioxide levels decreasing across the district. But, of course, there is always more that can be done and that's why we have a regularly reviewed air quality action plan.

"We have a number of priorities for the future and I hope these, along with the difference the lockdown has made to people's lifestyle choices, will encourage the levels to continue to fall."

The council is supporting a number of incentives to improve air quality such as the Otley Road cycleway as well the Harrogate Car Club.

A car club provides cars for short or long-term bookings and are charged on a pay-as-you-go basis with insurance and fuel covered. It encourages people to reduce the number of cars in their household and is proved to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

Highway improvements play a key part in improving local air quality. For example, the improvements at Bond End in Knaresborough has played a big part in helping traffic flows and has reduced the levels of nitrogen dioxide by 14 per cent in 2019.

The council continues to work with North Yorkshire County Council on additional projects outlined in the air quality action plan such as safe walking routes as well as looking at the potential for further highway solutions to improve local air quality.

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