Wiltshire Publications

Westbury is an air quality ‘no action’ zone

WESTBURY Mayor, cllr Mike Sutton, has hit out at Wiltshire Council for not committing to improve air quality in the town after the council announced it has no current plans to establish a clean air zone in Westbury.

The leader of Wiltshire Council had previously said that evidence collected by the council showed that 200 extra lorries a day are being pushed through the centre of Westbury as a result of the weight limit imposed on Bath’s Cleveland bridge. Westbury was also declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in 2001 as a result of increased air pollution originating from high volumes of through-traffic in the town.

But the leader of Wiltshire Council, cllr Richard Clewer, has confirmed that the council will not be seeking to establish a clean air zone in the town to alleviate these problems.

“There are no current plans to establish a clean air zone in Westbury”, he said. “We are monitoring transport impacts on the A350 and await the results of National Highways’ north-south connectivity study which looks at all major and strategic routes that provide connectivity from the M4 corridor to the south coast, including the A350 (Westbury) and the A36 (Bath past Warminster and through Salisbury).

“Once we know the outcome of the National Highways study, we can establish the best way forward for the whole A350 – while working with the Department for Transport and National Highways. In the meantime, we continue to call on Bath and North East Somerset Council to have meaningful discussions about the impact of their Clean Air Zone and to stop the closure of the A36 to lorries, especially those with modern Euro 6 engines.”

Cllr Sutton has criticised the lack of action by Wiltshire Council and says that a Westbury bypass is decades away, and that children growing up in the area need a plan in place to improve air quality now – not in the future.

“The announcement by the leader of Wiltshire Council that they intend to do nothing about air pollution in Westbury is disappointing and alarming, but not unexpected,” he said.

“Wiltshire Council has a history of failing to deliver any benefits to the town even though their inability to deliver a five-year housing land supply plan has led to a very large increase in development, with no infrastructure improvements.

“Stating that air quality will be improved by the building of a bypass sometime never is akin to telling a starving child not to worry because world poverty will be solved in 50 years’ time. Even by the Department of Transport’s own standards any planned bypass is decades away and is still only an idea, not reality, and we do not know what the future result for such schemes will be as climate change takes hold.

“Children growing up in the town need a plan now – not in some mythical future. Through traffic is not the only problem in the town as cross-town journeys could be better managed, but again no action from the unitary authority. The area board for BA13 which includes Westbury is charged with providing an air quality plan, but in all of its existence, is yet to deliver a single thought or plan.

“In effect, the declaration by Wiltshire that Westbury is an air quality action zone turns out to be an air quality ‘no action zone’. Well done Wiltshire Council yet again.”