BASILDON Council has announced wants to axe the 70mph speed limit on a 5.5 mile stretch of the A127 between Pound Lane and the Fortune of War junction and create a pollution zone to tackle air pollution.

The council is proposing to introduce a "non-charging" clean air zone in parts of the borough.

The proposals have been developed in partnership with Essex County Council and Rochford District Council, after the government’s National Air Quality Plan identified a number of locations along the A127 were likely to be exceeding air quality thresholds for nitrogen dioxide.

Further tests found that a section of the A127 between east and west Basildon, and parts of the business area to the south of it, has poor air quality that breaks national safe limits.

The council says 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are attributable to outdoor air pollution. The zone would consist of a 50mph speed limit along the A127 from Fortune of War to Pound Lane junction. The council says reducing speeds from 70mph to 50mph can cut harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions by 20 per cent, as well as improving road safety and journey time reliability.

In addition businesses within the zone will be offered advice and support on upgrading to cleaner vehicles and installing electric charging points and cycle parking. The council also wants to encourage staff to cycle, walk or use public transport more in their daily commutes.

These measures will run alongside improvements to cycle routes, the installation of electronic charging points in Basildon and Rochford, and the planned introduction of a cleaner local bus fleet.

Kevin Blake, chairman of the leisure, culture and environment committee at Basildon Council, said: “Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health that we face, so it’s important we take action quickly to address the issues we’ve identified in our local community. The proposed non-charging clean air zone, alongside our other planned local transport improvements, will help us improve the air we breathe in Basildon.”

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader and councillor responsible for infrastructure said: “We will be consulting on the proposed non-charging clean air zone and I would encourage all those likely to be affected to get involved. Outdoor air pollution can be attributed to thousands of deaths each year, so it is great that we are looking at ways we can minimise local air pollution.”

Over the coming months, the council will be talking to local businesses and residents about the proposals and their implementation. A consultation, seeking peoples’ views on the non-charging Clean Air Zone, will take place later this year, and a free advice programme for businesses based in the area will be rolled out from this spring.

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For more information, visit www.essex.gov.uk/airquality