Newmarket Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) Consultation

Audience: Defra, Environment Agency, Highways England, neighbouring local authorities, county council, town council, Newmarket BID, Jockey Club, county and district councillors for Newmarket, businesses and residents in the area covered by the AQMA

This consultation is now closed. It was open from 11 June 2021 to 19 July 2021.

Schedule 11 of the 1995 Environment Act requires us to consult:

  • Defra (They have already been consulted on and approved our annual report)
  • Environment Agency
  • Highways England
  • all local authorities neighbouring the local authority in question (bordering West Suffolk is East Cambs, South Cambs, Breckland, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Braintree, Babergh and Mid Suffolk) 
  • Suffolk County Council (Highways department)
  • any National Park authority as appropriate (not applicable)
  • other public authorities as appropriate (Newmarket Town Council);
  • bodies representing local business interests and other organisations as appropriate
    • Newmarket BID
    • Jockey Club
    • County and District Councillors for Newmarket
  • businesses in the area covered by the AQMA
  • residents living in the area covered by the AQMA

Revocation of the air quality management area in Newmarket town centre

Following a successful and sustained reduction in air pollution at Old Station Road in Newmarket, we intend to revoke the air quality management Area (AQMA) there. This does not mean that monitoring will stop, but it does bring benefits to anyone buying or selling a property as it will no longer be highlighted as an area of environmental concern.

Our statutory duty

Local authorities have a duty to monitor the quality of air within their administrative district and, where certain pollutants exceed nationally set levels, the Council prioritises them as AQMAs. The currently declared air quality management area in Newmarket is located along Old Station Road, from the clock tower roundabout to the junction with Rous Road.  Since the introduction of the AQMA in 2009, the levels of the pollutant of concern, nitrogen dioxide, have reduced to below national levels. We were able to reduce the size of the AQMA in 2017 but at that time we did not have sufficient data for the section covering Old Station Road and it therefore remained as an AQMA.

We have now collected the data to confirm that the air quality along Old Station Road in Newmarket is well within the national objectives. This is presented in detail, with all our air quality monitoring data, in our annual status report available on the air quality page of the West Suffolk Council website. However, for the ease of this consultation, we have also included a summary document that relates solely to data for the Newmarket AQMA. Although we have included provisional data from 2020 within this summary information, it should be noted that we recognise that due to the pandemic 2020 was not a typical year for air quality and the decision to revoke the AQMA was based on the previous four years of data from 2016 to 2019.

Guidance from Defra recommends a minimum of three years of compliance prior to revoking an AQMA, so we believe the four years of compliance is a conservative and cautious approach.  We consider that removing this designation will give residence and visitors confidence that the air quality is not posing a significant risk to their health.

Our 2020 annual status report, together with the recommendation to revoke the Newmarket AQMA, has been reviewed and approved by Defra. 

Part of the reason for this reduction in this pollutant will be due to changes to the layout of the clocktower roundabout and improvements to Newmarket High Street undertaken some years ago with more recent reductions likely to be down to changes in car manufacturing with more hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, the latter of which produce zero emissions.

Although we intend to revoke the AQMA, we are committed continuing to monitor air pollution in Newmarket and throughout West Suffolk, and to working to reduce levels of pollution such as through improving the infrastructure to encourage motorists to change over to no-emission Electric Vehicles, and carrying out engagement with schools and communities to reduce vehicle idling.

If you wish to make any representation with regards to these proposals, please email us with your comments at by midday on Monday 19 July 2021.