PLANS to tackle poor air quality by cutting the speed limit on a section of the A127 and introducing a 'clean air zone' have been given the green light.

Members of Basildon Council met last night and backed a range of measures to tackle poor air quality, including reducing the speed limit from 70mph to 50mph from shortly before the Fortune of War Junction to the A127 Pound Lane Junction.

Any speed limits under 70mph within the area will remain the same, while the new limit will be enforced through the use of average speed cameras.

The committee also supported plans to introduce a clean air zone where the council will be able to take specific actions to improve air quality.

A127 50mph 'clean air zone' could force businesses out

The designated zone will be surrounding the same stretch of the A127 as the change in speed limit and include the Pipps Hill and Burnt Mill industrial estates.

Within the zone, the council will be able to issue fines for cars found to have their engine idling and they will offer businesses advice and support on upgrading to cleaner vehicles, installing electric charging points and encouraging their staff to travel more sustainably.

While the authority does have the option to introduce a charge to motorists travelling within the zone, they agreed not to do this as it could have a “detrimental health impact” on residents caused by traffic diverting through nearby residential areas.

Other changes will include improvements to cycle routes and public transport and an increase in charging points for electric cars.

The plans are all part of an outline business case and will not be given the go-ahead until further discussion has taken place, including a public consultation held later in the year.

The council is required to tackle the problem after tests by Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) found the area around this section of the A127 has poor air quality that exceeds national limits and must be addressed "in the shortest possible time".

Councillor Kevin Blake, vice chair of the Urgent Decisions and Staffing Sub Committee, said: “Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health that we face in our local community, and so we support the local actions which will help us to address the issues we’ve identified.

“The proposed non-charging clean air zone, alongside our other planned local transport improvements, will help us improve the air we breathe in Basildon.”