Pollution caused by congestion in Newhaven town centre is now so high, it may join one of a number of special zones across the country called an Air Quality Management Area.
Lewes town centre, along with around half the local authorities in Sussex and all the London Boroughs, are amongst some of the places which have Air Quality Management Areas.
Lewes District Council said in recent years the combination of high traffic volumes and congested roads, particularly at certain times of the day when the closure of the swing bridge may cause traffic jams, has meant air pollution in Newhaven has been close to reaching statutory levels.
This led to the council submitting a detailed assessment of pollution to the Government in 2007 and 2010.
Both times the Government said the council did not need to introduce an Air Quality Management Area, but this year the council said pollution levels had risen and believed it would need to create the special zone.
These areas are identified if they breach air quality for certain pollutants, in this case nitrogen oxide.
In a report to Lewes District Council cabinet which met on Wednesday February 13 at Lewes House, it said an Air Quality Management Area should have no harmful effect on regeneration, as developers must consider the impact of large developments on local air quality.
The cabinet agreed to submit a detailed review and assessment of air quality in Newhaven to Defra, which will decide whether to introduce the zone. The council would then decide how big the area should be and how to improve air quality in Newhaven.
The report said: “Developers are willing to consider transport infrastructure improvements in their development proposals, including developer contributions to improving the wider public realm and an Air Quality Management Area can be seen as a positive focus to regenerating an area.
“This can happen for example through better public transport, improvements to walking and cycling routes or work to improve the flow of traffic.
“Additionally Air Quality Management Area can attract central government funding.
“Lewes District Council has been successful in bidding for and being awarded £300,000 in air quality grant monies in the last five years to assist in improving air quality in the Lewes Air Quality Management Area. There have been 28 measures arising from the use of these monies, including the establishment of the Lewes Car Club and the Cycle Challenge.”