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Air Pollution Figures ‘Appalling’ but action is years away

July 27, 2019 2:36 PM
By Peter Dobbs
Buxton Rd Ashbourne (Peter Dobbs)

Buxton Road Ashbourne

A recently published report from Derbyshire Dales District Council has shown that the air on Buxton Road Ashbourne has levels of pollution that are on average almost 20% above the suggested safe maximum. The pollutant in question is nitrogen dioxide (sometimes abbreviated to NOx) and is formed in vehicle engines, particularly older diesel engines. It is an internationally recognised hazard with EU legislation making 40ug m-3 the maximum long term exposure limit. It is associated with a variety of health conditions including respiratory diseases.

Graph of Buxton Rd NOx data 2018 (Peter Dobbs)

(The odd result for April appears to be when the sample tubes were possibly muddled up - the probable value was 57.17, recorded for another tube location).

Despite measurements having shown no indication of decreasing (if anything the trend is up) the report suggests that another two years of testing are needed before an 'Air Quality Action Plan' is prepared to attempt to reduce these dangerous levels.

At the Council Meeting in Matlock on 25th July, recently elected District Councillor Robert Archer (Lib Dem) requested clarification as to what the Council were proposing to do in response to these levels of pollution in Ashbourne. The response he received from Tim Braund (Head of Regulatory Services) was not the one he had expected.

Rob Archer commented "The Council has recently voted unanimously to establish a Climate Emergency Sub Group of six Councillors and I thought that this would be a suitable issue to have discussed by this small group. This would enable a rapid response to what is clearly a crucial issue for the residents of Buxton Road. Instead I was informed by Tim Braund that the diffusion tube was not accurate enough for the 'detailed assessment' required to create an 'Air Quality Management Area' and more testing was to be carried out. Quite why they have left it for over a year after high values of NOx pollution were regularly being recorded on Buxton Road is hard to understand."

It also seems hard to understand why diffusion tube measurements of pollutants are deemed sufficiently accurate to supply data used to support planning applications but not the declaration of a plan to protect existing residents!

Update; The District Council seems to have decided that diffusion tubes are appropriate after all and have installed a further four tubes on Buxton Road and we await the data from these. Let us hope that if the data also reveals high levels of NOx in these new locations then swift action will be taken to establish a suitable Air Quality Action Plan.