Air pollution in Norwich back to pre-coronavirus lockdown levels
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
The improvement in Norwich's air quality during coronavirus lockdown was short-lived, according to a new report.
A new study, published by Centre for Cities, showed air quality improvement in the first half of the year across the UK, triggered by the first national lockdown in March.
With people told to stay at home and limit trips, levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Norwich, recorded at DEFRA's monitoring unit at Lakenfields, fell from close to 15 micrograms per cubic metre to 8 micrograms per cubic metre.
However, by October, it had returned to pre-lockdown levels, although it dipped again when the second national lockdown came in.
But levels of another pollutant, particles known as PM2.5, went up by 15pc during the lockdown period to 12 micrograms per cubic metre.
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According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs such increases in eastern and southern England at that time may have been due to anticyclonic weather, with winds bringing PM2.5 from the rest of Europe into the UK.
The authors of the report say it shows increased post-pandemic home working will not keep air pollution down - as people still use cars for leisure and to go shopping.
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Green city councillor Jamie Osborn said: "Local councils have to do much more to support walking and cycling and clean public transport such as electric buses, in a coordinated manner."
Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport and chairman of the transforming cities joint committee, said government money would help.
He said: "Recently secured investment from the Transforming Cities Fund means £32m will be spent on infrastructure changes over the next few years, aiming to relieve congestion and improve public transport, cycling and walking routes.
"Smarter traffic signalling technology, reducing levels of cross-city through traffic and working with First Bus on their investment in cleaner engines are all measures within the programme designed to improve air quality.
"A lot has already been achieved and we remain committed to working with our district and business partners to cut air pollution as much as possible.”