Fresh start for village’s low emission zone trial

JPCT 130213 Traffic in Storrington. Photo by Derek Martin ENGSUS00120130213103404
JPCT 130213 Traffic in Storrington. Photo by Derek Martin ENGSUS00120130213103404

A councillor said he is ‘frustrated’ by the ‘painfully slow’ delay to collect data for the Storrington Low Emission Zone air quality trial following year-long technical problems.

The programme began in May 2014, but full data could not be collected at that stage, a spokesman for HDC said.

“The cameras rely on mobile phone signals, and problems with the signal in the area meant we could only gather data from two of the four cameras,” she told the County Times.

“We’ve now overcome these difficulties and have started again using all four cameras.”

Detailed data is now being produced using automatic number plate recognition cameras. These capture traffic information so it can be fully analysed by vehicle type and by emission levels. Full results from this analysis should be available towards the end of the year.

District and county councillor for Storrington, Philip Circus, said he is ‘fed up’ by the delay, but believes that over the last few years traffic pollution in the village has gradually improved.

“I don’t think the last year has totally gone to waste, but I’m very frustrated. All of us in fact feel frustrated at the painfully slow process we’re making on this issue,” said Mr Circus.

“This is all fairly new technology offered to us on an experimental need, so we sort of expect some technical problems, but I don’t think this is very good and I’m pretty fed up with the delays.”

Mr Circus added that in the last few years evidence gathered by other means appears to indicate that the traffic pollution has begun to improve.

“This is in essence solving itself. Rather than waiting for this interminable process of a Low Emission Zone, we should be looking at other sensible things to improve the air quality.”

Mr Circus said this could include a traffic management scheme or proposing to redirect HGVs.

The trial is part of the Storrington Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which was produced in October 2012 in conjunction with West Sussex County Council.

The AQAP includes other measures aiming to reduce traffic congestion through the village and grow the use of low-emission travel.

A public exhibition in February 2013 concluded that the introduction of a Low Emission Zone would be the most viable and deliverable option for Storrington. It was then agreed that further research and a full cost/benefit analysis of the Low Emission Zone option would be undertaken.

Last year, Storrington’s pollution level was labelled a ‘national disgrace’ and was believed to be harming residents, according to the Daily Air Quality Index, produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Air pollution in towns and villages across the UK were rated between one to ten in terms of severity, with Storrington coming in at level nine, just a step away from the worst possible level.

The Government survey follows a string of development applications for Storrington, including Wates Development’s latest attempt to build homes on Melton Drive.

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