Peterborough parkway has illegal level of pollution says government

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A parkway in Peterborough has an illegal level of pollution, according to the Government.

Nene Parkway, near the roundabout which connects with Longthorpe Parkway, is said to be failing to meet air quality standards.

The part of Nene Parkway which the Government says has an illegal level of pollution

The part of Nene Parkway which the Government says has an illegal level of pollution

The reading, though, has been challenged by Peterborough City Council which believes it is “extremely unlikely” that the parkway is not meeting standards.

The council is contesting its inclusion on the list of authorities urged to take action by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) due to the high pollution reading on the parkway.

Peterborough currently has the aspiration to be the UK’s Environment Capital.

A council spokesperson said: “An exceedance of air quality standards at the location highlighted in the report is extremely unlikely. The report considers predictions of roadside concentrations of pollutants. There is however no relevant public roadside exposure at this location.

“We are currently working with Defra with a view to clarifying the situation and an update will be issued in due course.”

The failure to meet air quality standards came to light after the High Court ruled that the Government’s Air Quality Plan is “unlawful.”

The plan was produced to reduce illegal levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide - most of which comes from vehicles - to legal levels, but Mr Justice Garnham said more was needed to be done to make sure 45 local authority areas achieve compliance with standards as soon as possible.

The case was brought by environmental lawyers ClientEarth which named Peterborough City Council as one of the areas which required additional measures.

This was the third successive case ClientEarth had successfully brought against the Government.

Last September the council said Peterborough is meeting its target for air quality, but, the authority said emissions of Sulphur Dioxide are being exceeded near Flag Fen due to brickworks in Whittlesey, which is under the control of Fenland District Council.

The council’s Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Nick Sandford said air pollution contributes to five per cent of deaths in Peterborough.

He also highlighted the “vast amount of funding for road building and road widening” but also praised the council for “recognising the important role trees have” in reducing air pollution.

Peter Hiller, cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development at Peterborough City Council, said: “Data provided by Public Health England estimates that air pollution in Peterborough contributed to approximately five per cent of deaths in 2015.

“It should be noted that in general air pollution contributes a small amount to the cause of death of a large number of individuals who also have other risk factors (heart disease, lung disease etc), rather than being the main cause of death.

“The five per cent estimate is similar to the England average and other similar authorities.

“Peterborough City Council is committed to reducing air pollution in the areas in which it has control to do so. We have the highest number of electric vehicles registrations in the whole of the UK.

“We work closely with our bus providers to reduce emissions where possible. We take into account the impact of air pollution when planning infrastructure and roads and are investing in air quality training for our transport planners.

“In addition, we encourage alternative methods of transport such as cycling and walking which not only reduces emissions but also independently improve health for our residents.

“It is also worth mentioning that Peterborough is far less congested than many other cities, with traffic moving fairly freely most of the time.

“We will continue to investigate new ways to reduce air pollution and encourage road users to seek alternative methods of transport.”