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Town sees air quality improvement after introduction of 20mph speed limit

18 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Usk. Photo via Google

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

The introduction of a 20 mile per hour speed limit has reduced air pollution in a town which was previously above acceptable levels, it has been claimed.

Official figures have shown an improvement in air quality in Usk over the past nine years and the council could consider removing its status as an Air Quality Management Area – put in place as pollution in the town was above national standards.

Councillor Meirion Howells said he welcomed the improvement, and a 20 mile per hour zone had contributed to a reduction in pollution on the town’s Bridge Street which has been declared an Air Quality Management Area.

The independent councillor for Llanbadoc and Usk said: “I think we all noted the 20 mile per hour made a difference and certainly helped.”

The councillor, who was speaking as Monmouthshire County Council’s performance scrutiny committee was updated on the work of its environmental health department, added it would have to be noted how the introduction of the lower limit across Wales has made a difference to air quality across over the longer term.

Main road

A 20 mph limit was introduced on Monmouth Road and Castle Parade and Bridge Street, which form part of the A472 the main road through the town, in November 2017. The lower limit was then extended to residential streets throughout Usk in 2023 before it became the default speed limit in built up areas in Wales in September last year.

Bridge Street in Usk was designated an Air Quality Management Area as nitrogen dioxide, produced as a result of cars burning fossil fuels, was exceeding 40 micrograms per cubic metre annually.

The report for the committee stated: “2023 was the ninth year that levels in the Usk Air Quality Management Area were below the nitrogen dioxide objective level and the sixth year below 36 per cubit metre (which is below 10% of the objective level).”

Last year marked six years since the 20mph zone was introduced.

Revoking

Welsh Government guidance states council can consider revoking Air Quaility Management Area status if emissions are below 10 per cent of the objective level for five years.

The report stated the council has taken into consideration the drop in traffic during the pandemic period: “Making allowances for lower traffic levels during the two years of the covid pandemic, if 2024 is again below 10 per cent of the objective level, consideration will be given to revoking the AQMA status.”

The implementation of the 20mph zone, from 2017, as well as enforcement of double yellow line parking restrictions, a lorry watch scheme to help enforce a Road Traffic Order banning larger vehicles from the centre of town and improved signage were all listed completed measurs as part of an action plan to improve air quailty in Usk.

The A48 at Hardwick Hill, Chepstow is also designated an Air Quality Management Area where the council uses more accurate, automatic monitoring equipment.

The report said monitoring in Usk and Chepstow, and other monitoring in its four major towns, found the nitrogen dioxide level hadn’t been exceeded during the 2023 calendar year which it stated “builds on the previous three compliant years”.

The council’s most recently available air quality progress report, from September 2023 which covers result of air quality monitoring in 2022, states “air quality in Monmouthshire has been steadily improving since 2012”.

It said there has been an improvement in air quality at Hardwick Hill since 2017.


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Richard
Richard
26 days ago

Usk should twin with Llandudbo or is ite now known “ VilledeFinch “ in honour of their great
leader 🚸

Stephen
Stephen
26 days ago

Maybe down to more electric cars or the wind blowing stronger.

Brian Coman
Brian Coman
26 days ago

So the Usk area has cleaner air while the River Usk is full of sewage .There is a couple of warning signs near the bridge telling people not to enter the river…..but let’s not talk about that issue.

Wlad
Wlad
25 days ago

RUBBISH my car us using 15% more fuel which must be polluting the area and causing more problems

Russell Wheeler
Russell Wheeler
25 days ago

So the air has become gradually cleaner as vehicles become less polluting. What impact has the 20 limit affected this? Only way would be to monitor a similar street that is a 30 limit

Richard
Richard
25 days ago

What absolute nonsense with zero evidence to back up such ridiculous claims. The past 9 years we’ve seen more and more people driving electric cars and more cars with much newer cleaner and more efficient combustion engines. I would even go as far as to say that the imposed 20mph limit has caused the air quality to take longer to improve and has reduced the benefits gained from the switch to more efficient vehicles. I myself drive around all day in an old works diesel van , I take longer to pass through 20mph zones and while I’m in them… Read more »

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
25 days ago

Reduction in air pollution at 20mph, yet the overall efficiency of a vehicle is worse at at lower speeds*. So when a vehicle takes longer to travel at 20mph than 30mph say there has to be a net increase in the overall emissions!

**The optimum speed for a petrol vehicle is 45-50mph for max efficiency according to the RAC

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/fuel-saving-tips/#:~:text=Typically%2C%20cars%20are%20most%20efficient,are%20covered%20in%20this%20guide.

William Robson
William Robson
25 days ago

Brain washed Cars are designed to be more efficient at around 56 mph. And the lower you go the less efficient they are so dropping from 30 to 20 increases pollution , not only that but they are in the area longer Welsh Government stupidity Please vote screaming lord Such in the next election and cannot be worse than labour What about the incumbent first minister. He needs to go . Then there is the non elected executive who want to force the next leader on the party. What about a national public election for the first ministers job. Why… Read more »

William Robson
William Robson
25 days ago

Unleaded petrol contains benzene a carcinogen so is this article an opinion or fact based on measurements?
Years ago Port Talbot had a NOX problem . They closed off a road to general traffic flow and only allowed limited access. The town centre trades people’s complained and the problem disappeared road reopened. Similarly they closed off the on ramp to the M4 at Pentyla once again the town traders complained and the junction closure was removed.
We’re there an factual input

David Thomas
David Thomas
25 days ago

What a load of nonsense- it’s never been possible to do more than 20mph in Usk !

Wayne
Wayne
24 days ago

And my farther was my granny. What a load of crap. Everywhere else is seeing air quality
Getting worse since they introduced the 20 mph speed limit…
And that is a proven fact.

Malo
Malo
24 days ago

Car spending longer on the journey through Usk but air quality gets better??

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