Calls to stop HGVs going through Swaffham as pollution levels exceed EU guidelines

Swaffham town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Swaffham town centre. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A volunteer survey to measure the number of HGVs travelling through Swaffham has come to an end and residents hope the results will prompt a larger council survey in the future.

Volunteers analysed the volume of vehicles passing Swaffham's iconic Market Place building, the Butter Cross, on September 4 and September 8 following earlier research that found pollution levels have exceeded EU guidelines.

The results show that an average of one HGV with five or six axles passes through the town every three minutes and an average of 19 non-HGV vehicles pass every minute.

The volunteers are part of the community-led highways and traffic group who hope that the results will lead to a formal study which could see the council using Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to capture vehicle movements in detail.

Stan Sole, who helped conduct the survey, said: 'How it compares with other towns we do not know but it has to be worse, particularly in the case of HGVs. We are the only town in Norfolk to have a primary route going through the town centre.

'If we could prevent the long distance HGVs from going through it would reduce pollution, reduce congestion, improve safety for pedestrians and improve the environment within the town.

'Pollution levels are variable but, having been monitored by Breckland Council, have exceeded EU guidelines on several occasions over the last few years.'

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In June an air pollution report from Breckland Council called Swaffham an area of 'particular concern' due to the A1065 running through the town causing frequent traffic congestion and leading to elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.

Breckland has been working with Norfolk County Council to find ways to improve the air quality by improving traffic flow.

This has led to a second report by the county council assessing the feasibility of changing the road layout. The options were found to potentially reduce all oxides of nitrogen by up to 25pc.

However, changing the road layout would incur a significant cost and Breckland's joint bid with the county council for further financing from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was unsuccessful.