AIR quality at pollution hotspots in Blackburn with Darwen met all Government targets for the first time in 20 years, according to a report.

But time will tell whether the excellent results will be sustained in coming years, bosses warned.

Each year, the council submits an update report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs detailing air quality with the latest report covering 2017.

In a report to go before Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board next week, executive member for environmental services, Cllr Jim Smith, said: “The Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) at the junction of Accrington Road and Burnley Road was revoked in 2017, and Defra have agreed to further AQMA revocations at Witton, Earcroft, and Darwen Town Centre.

"Outside of the AQMAs there have been significant reductions between 2013 and 2017 with the majority of the reductions in 2017.

“Sites at Moorgate Street/Livesey Branch Road and Accrington Road/Fecitt brow junctions were being monitored closely because they were close to exceeding the air quality objective. In 2017 there were no exceedances.

“The Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) drawn up in 2010 contains 15 measures to tackle air quality problems, many of which are currently ongoing.

“This, alongside wider measures and significant infrastructure investments has been extremely effective in reducing local emissions.

“Plans for AQMAs at Blackamoor and Four Lane Ends include a number of infrastructure schemes – construction of new link roads and upgrading to intelligent traffic management systems – due to commence in 2019.

"The council achieved a number of milestones in 2017, including the Pennine Reach rapid bus transport scheme, 26km of cycling infrastructure, installing intelligent traffic management systems, securing funding for local road schemes and awareness campaigns.

"The council’s other priorities over the coming year are to: continue monitoring and delivering the DfT Connecting East Lancashire scheme."

DEFRA bosses praised the council for achieving these reductions with limited resources and said mitigation measures and a well-defined and maintained monitoring network were key.

They said the council should continue their extraordinary work, implementing and developing mitigation measures, securing funding, and monitoring.