Discussion Forum

Air Quality Management Area

Posted by Lesley Mackay
Monday, September 18, 2006

Received letter dated 31st August 2006 from Calderdale Council informing me that a Declaration of the Calderdale Air Quality Management Area (No.3) has been made. This extends from Bridge Lanes, through Market Street to Machpelah (near the station.

I understand that every resident living along the A646 in Hebden Bridge has received the same letter. Silence, of course, from the press.

My comment: It is worrying that nearly all the primary schools in Hebden Bridge are located very close to the A646. Just what air are the children breathing as they play in the playgrounds at lunchtime and when they walk to and from school?

When will people get out of their cars? What does it take for them to change their habits? People are sitting in their cars in traffic jams, breathing in these wonderful fumes. Are they daft, or what?

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Monday, September 18, 2006

Lovely piece of management-type jargon. It suggests that they (ie, t'managers) are going to do something to... er .... manage the air. Does the letter give a clue as to what they intend to do?

And while I have some sympathy with your desire to get drivers out of their cars, until we have better public transport, more freight travelling by rail, etc, the situation isn't going to improve.

So for the benefit of those of us who live off the A646, what does the letter say?

Posted by Lesley Mackay
Thursday, September 28, 2006

The letter states:
"Recently we have found that the concentration of a pollutant called nitrogen dioxide (NO2) already exceeds or appears likely to exceeed a level of 40ug/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) in this location. This target level is set by the Government."

"We believe that vehicle exhaust fumes contribute most of the NO2 in this area. Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the respiratory system and increase susceptibility to infection. Children are thought to be particularly susceptible as excessive exposure to NO2 may increase the risk of poorer lung function in later life."

"This letter is NOT to warn of an immediate risk to health, but simply to inform you that NO2 levels are higher than the target levels. The target was set to protect the health of the general population and any concerns about your personal health should always be put to your doctor."

"In the next 12-18 months the Council's Engineering Services will be considering what can be done to alleviate the levels of nitrogen dioxide, leading to the publication of what the Government calls an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) and they will invite views on what measures people would like to be considered for inclusion in the plan. Consultees will include the Primary Care Trust, who will consider health protection aspects, DEFRA on behalf of the Secretary of State, and local residents. Consideration of the costs and benefits of these measures will take some time, but should be concluded by March 2008."

Clearly there are implications for the health of children living along the A646, walking along the A646 and attending schools near to the A646. Adults will also be affected by the poor air quality. Indeed, everybody is potentially at risk from air pollution.

Lorries are no longer a big problem on the A646 since it was detrunked. There are some lorries still going through but the majority have gone.

It is cars and the people who drive them who are the problem. We are lucky that public transport is subsidised in West Yorkshire. We have an excellent train service and a regular and improving bus service. What do you want? The self-indulgent pleasure of driving your car which in turn damages the health of those around you? Get up earlier, make public transport work for you, lobby to get buses going to where you want them to go. Leave the cars for those who really need them: the disabled and the elderly.

The silence from the local press about this Air Quality Management Area says it all. No one can bear the thought that they themselves have to leave their car at home. The politicians have no answers because it is electoral suicide to try to reduce car use. A population which is addicted to cars doesn't want to hear they have to go on a diet.

Posted by Lesley Mackay
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The latest news is that the whole of the A646 in Hebden Bridge is going to be monitored in sections. New monitors have been put into position this week. The aim is to find whether the AQMA can be reduced in size or even whether it needs to be extended.

Apparently there is an aim pollution monitor outside Riverside School and the good news is that the air has been found to be OK there. Nevertheless, the canyon effect of buildings situated close to the road does cause the pollution levels to rise. It seems that if pollution levels are going to come down to a reasonable level then traffic will have to be reduced by 50%. So who's giving up their car first?

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Lesley's comments underline the issue behind my question - how do the powers that be intend to manage air quality in Market Street? The only answer is by reducing vehicle traffic. Lesley says we have good public transport - and yet there is ongoing controversy about the reduction of bus routes by Metro. Sorry, but I can't square that circle, any more than I can square the circle of making the town more pedestrian-friendly without sowing and stopping traffic and thus increasing the amount of exhaust gasses.

The fact is that until there is a good and convenient public transport system, people will use cars. Especially in a rural area, that is unavoidable. Some people need to use their own transport - my own work pattern simply doesn't work with public transport. But those of us who cannot rely on public transport can nevertheless make a realistic contribution, by planning our travel to use the car as little as possible, and by using smaller cars. How many gas-guzzlers on our roads are simply unnecessary and greedy?

It isn't enough to simply challenge people to get out of their cars. Unless there is a credible and convenient alternative, we will still sit in queues behind traffic lights and busses along the A646.


See also

Market Street choked with fumes and

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