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No answers to Wiltshire Air Quality blackspots

November 1, 2011 2:54 PM
By Trevor Carbin

For years Westbury and Bradford have suffered from pollution problems, and Wiltshire Council has not been able to come up with any suggestions on how to improve air quality.

The government requires councils to measure seven pollutants to make sure they don't exceed safe levels. Wiltshire fails on two of these - nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulates (Pm10).

The worst spot in Wiltshire for pollution is Mason's Lane, Bradford on Avon, which fails to meet the criteria for both NO2 and Pm10.

Warminster Road Westbury fails on NO2, as do three areas in Salisbury and the Shane's Castle junction in Devizes.

In the past the council has relied on doing nothing and waiting for improvements to vehicle emissions to resolve the problem. These improvements have happened, but have been partly counteracted by increasing traffic volumes so the pollution remains.

More imaginative solutions have included building a bypass for Westbury - though in the wrong place and hence inevitably thrown out at the enquiry stage - and installing titanium pavements to absorb the pollution in Bradford.

WC repeatedly stresses that air quality in Wiltshire is generally good, and have produced a 30-page 'Air Quality Strategy' with a pretty picture of Cherhill White Horse on the front to emphasise the fact.

A government report suggests that 500 people in Wiltshire may die prematurely due to air pollution each year, though WC officers point out that these are people who are probably unwell anyway.

A report to Wiltshire Council's 'Environment Select Committee'

http://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/g5781/Public%20reports%20pack,%2001st-Nov-2011%2010.30,%20Environment%20Select%20Committee.pdf?T=10

is an explanation of why the council intends to continue doing nothing of any practical use.

Speaking at the meeting on November 1st Trowbridge councillor Steve Oldrieve said he wouldn't be supporting the WC strategy. "As a council we're not dealing with this," he said. "Nothing has happened in terms of improving things. "We're monitoring air pollution but doing very little else. If this comes under the 'too difficult' category we should say so." Cllr Oldrieve asked for an assessment of the risks to vulnerable individuals to be done.

Despite his objections the 'scrutiny' committee accepted the report, and asked for an update on inactivity in May next year.