POLLUTION levels in Stratford need to continue being carefully monitored say environmental campaigners.
Last year Stratford District Council considered revoking the town’s status as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) – declared when pollutants in the air exceed recommended government levels – after seven years in force.
Strategies to reduce pollution – including taking into account ‘public health’ in development planning, incorporating more green spaces, and campaigns promoting cycling and lift sharing – resulted in overall levels falling below recommended limits.
But despite this, a rise in pollution levels in some areas – including Wood Street, Greenhill Street and Guild Street – prompted councillors to consider maintaining AQMA status.
According to Friends of the Earth, a breakdown of official figures revealed the recommended maximum pollution levels were exceeded on more than 20 occasions across ten sites in the town over the course of a month.
Earlier this year the group carried out its own monitoring at points not covered by the council for three weeks. Equipment in Wood Street and Guild Street recorded nitrogen oxide levels slightly above than the legal limit.
Friends of the Earth local group chair Bob Bearman said: “This of course is only a snapshot but it’s enough to convince us that a close watch must be kept on the situation.
“It was suggested in last summer’s report the council might wish to revoke the town’s Air Quality Management Area status. To our mind, this would send out entirely the wrong message.
“Average air pollution levels over 12 months may not be at consistently dangerous levels but it smacks of complacency to take steps which imply a downgrading of precautionary measures.
“The cabinet is shortly to consider the future of air-quality monitoring in the town. We will be very concerned if it decides on any watering down.”
Recommendations to relocate the monitoring equipment and devise a detailed action plan are to be considered at a meeting later this month.
The Observer had not been able to get a council comment at the time of going to press.