POLLUTION-busting measures on the A45 will be ‘outpaced’ by increased emissions from more road users after Birmingham Airport’s expansion and HS2, a councillor claims.
As we reported last week, Solihull Council is seeking nearly £1million from government to carry out an order to introduce air quality measures on two sections of the A45 Coventry Road, by junction six of the M42, near the airport.
The two stretches were identified by DEFRA as potentially exceeding the annual mean nitrogen dioxide (NO2) safe limit value – of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
The council has approved a package of measures to combat toxic air including workplace travel plans, use of cycling and walking networks, car sharing schemes and changes to signing and fleet.
But Green Party councillor Max McLoughlin says the Birmingham Airport Masterplan, which was discussed at council a fortnight ago, is going to push passenger numbers from 13 million per year, up to 18 million.
And the airport’s own figures show around half of these passengers will be travelling to the airport by car, he says.
Plans are also being devised by developers to improve road connectivity to the HS2 Interchange, to combat increased road use and congestion, he says.
Coun McLoughlin, in response to our story last month, said: “As good as some of the measures might be, they are going to be outpaced by increased traffic on that stretch of road.
“Worse still, we have no clear goals on reductions on vehicle movements or emissions from each action.
“I’m very concerned over the future of air quality around the airport.
“There needs to be some serious effort put into helping people move around sustainably.
“Currently the economic growth of the businesses in that area is being negatively affected by poor public transport.
“People won’t switch to public transport unless it’s quicker, more reliable, cheaper and cleaner.”
The council’s cabinet approved making a request for £824,373 from DEFRA to help it deliver measures by next year.
The council’s cabinet member for the environment Coun Tony Dicicco said: “I would like to emphasise the positive aspects of the Airport’s Masterplan such as there being no second runway.
“This will reduce both air and noise pollution for thousands of local residents.
“The new generation of aircraft will also be significantly quieter and have much lower emissions.
“In terms of air pollution from increased vehicular movements, SMBC will be working with the airport and HS2 to reduce the environmental impact.
“There will be more passengers on the west coast main line to the airport due to its increased capacity as a result of HS2.
“Public transport usage will also increase considerably with the introduction of Sprint and Metro.
“We will also look to incentivise car sharing and the use of low or zero emission vehicles and electric vehicles.”
Of the A45 scheme, he has said: “It is important to remember that the current air quality limits are NOT exceeded in the road network near the airport.
“We are currently developing a clean air strategy for Solihull to reduce emissions even further.”