Joint action plan to tackle motor exhaust pollution in Hitchin

Exhaust emissions are cited as the primary source of pollution around Stevenage Road and Paynes Park

Exhaust emissions are cited as the primary source of pollution around Stevenage Road and Paynes Park. File photo. - Credit: Archant

An action plan has been set out to improve air quality in Hitchin, where motor exhaust emissions mean pollution is above government limits in two areas.

Air quality management area orders are in place along Stevenage Road, east of the Three Moorhens roundabout, and around Paynes Park – two places with nitrogen dioxide levels above the government limit.

The air quality management orders do not mean there is an immediate public health concern, while the rest of the North Hertfordshire district has concentrations of nitrogen dioxide below the limit set by the government.

North Herts District Council and the Highways department at Herts County Council have created a joint action plan to improve air quality in the district, after a public consultation.

Councillor Bernard Lovewell, who is responsible for environmental health at the district council, said: “We would like to reassure residents that air quality in the district is generally good.

“We recognise that there are a large number of air quality policy areas that are outside of our influence – however, in this report we set out how we plan to effectively tackle air quality issues which are within our control.”

According to the report, light and heavy goods vehicles together contribute more to the nitrogen dioxide levels than cars at both Paynes Park and Stevenage Road – though more than 80 per cent of vehicles going through both places are cars.

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Bodies consulted during the plan’s formulation included Hitchin Forum – which noted that a lack of commitment from the government limited options, but said the action plan was insufficiently ambitious in terms of trying to reduce the use of cars for short journeys within Hitchin.

Among the general public, the top action category identified was transport management and infrastructure. The top measure the public would like to see, according to the consultation, is a relief road to Hitchin’s industrial areas on the north side of town.

Other suggestions from the public included a Hitchin bypass and more frequent bus services.

The plan will be reviewed every five years, and progress on measures set out within the plan will be reported on annually.

To read the report go to