Pollution monitoring system wins government funding

Government funding for an innovative system to monitor air quality has been won by Eastleigh Borough Council.

The award of £58,750, from Defra’s Air Quality Grant, will pay for 25 mobile air quality and traffic monitors as part of a targeted programme around the Borough. The award is the full amount applied for by the Council.

Over the past 18 months, the Council has been trialling smart monitors developed by a local manufacturer, Iknaia, who are based just outside Eastleigh Borough in Chilworth. Their low-cost Airscan system was able to detect levels of pollution on Eastleigh’s streets in real time.

The new monitoring equipment will be easy to move around the borough, which will enable the Council’s Environment team to collect data in multiple locations and assess the impact that traffic congestion is having on the air residents breathe.  It will complement the static air quality monitoring stations that are already in place.

Initially, the 25 sensors will be located around a main route into Eastleigh town centre, near motorway junctions (Eastleigh town is close to the interchange between the M3 and M27) and in locations close to Southampton International  Airport. They will be moved to other key locations around the borough over the following  three years.

Among other clean air initiatives, the Borough Council operates airAlert, in partnership with its neighbouring local authority, Southampton City Council. airAlert is a free service that sends messages to a mobile or home telephone, informing subscribers that poor air quality is predicted in their area.  Real time information is also available online from static monitoring stations.

Eastleigh Borough Council’s Lead Environment Officer, Jason Light, who submitted the grant bid, said:

‘The quality of the air we breathe is one of the most important environmental factors impacting health and we are very pleased to have won this funding to extend our pollution monitoring system.  Gathering data through these monitors will provide valuable insight into traffic congestion and associated pollution, helping us tailor our plans to tackle these issues. The system will also help us raise awareness of air pollution in the Borough and how residents and business can do their bit to cut emissions.’