Mid Sussex air quality is good and improving

6 February 2023 - 06/02/2023

Mid Sussex councillors have welcomed the news that air quality in the district has generally improved over the past five years.

Councillors examined the annual status report on air quality at a meeting of Scrutiny Committee for Community, Customer Services and Service Delivery on Wednesday 1 February 2023.

Mid Sussex District Council monitors air quality at 33 sites across the district and data is presented to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) each year. Monitoring covers the two main types of pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is the result of motor vehicle emissions and particulate matter (PM), a general term for tiny soot, grit and dust particles.

The overall air quality in Mid Sussex is good and general trends show that it is getting better year on year.

One area of the district that requires close monitoring is Stonepound Crossroads in Hassocks, which historically has exceeded the recommended levels of NO2 due to high volumes of traffic and the close proximity of residential properties to the road. The Council has an Air Quality Action Plan for the area to help reduce pollution, encouraging motorists to turn off their engines when stationary at the traffic lights and promoting alternative modes of transport.

Improvements have already been made to local cycle routes and further work is due to take place later this year, linking Dale Road in Hassocks with Manor Road in Hurstpierpoint. The air quality improvement measures and the newer, cleaner vehicles on the roads are working to reduce pollutant concentrations at the Stonepound Crossroads, with data showing a steady decline in NO2 levels since the Air Quality Management Area was declared in 2011.

Moving to low carbon forms of transport such as electric vehicles will further help to improve air quality by reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions. The Council is working in partnership with West Sussex County Council to dramatically increase the number of Electric Vehicle Charging Points available on street and in public car parks. Over the next 10 years thousands of new chargers will be installed across the county to support electric vehicle drivers.

Councillor Norman Webster, Cabinet Member for Community said:

“Clean air has so many benefits, both physical and mental, and we must do all we can to reduce pollution and protect the air that we breathe.

“Good air quality is something that’s easy to take for granted but it’s vitally important to our health and wellbeing. Many of our residents suffer from asthma and or respiratory complaints and pollution in the air really can make life uncomfortable.

“The air quality figures we have been presented with today are really encouraging and show positive trend towards improved air quality in our area. Currently around 80% of the nitrogen dioxide in our air comes from petrol and diesel vehicles so I’m hopeful that, as low carbon transport options like electric cars become more popular, we can build on this momentum in the future.”