Freight management plan to help reduce nitrogen dioxide polluting St Albans

Traffic queuing at the 'Peahen junction' in St Albans

Traffic queuing at the 'Peahen junction' in St Albans - Credit: Archant

When it comes to bad air, courtesy of polluting vehicle emissions, St Albans is, unfortunately, a ‘hot spot’.

One resident in contact with the Herts Advertiser about the problem is Bill Forster, who said: “We live at the bottom of Holywell Hill, so are not as badly affected as many other residents.

“But, we keep the windows at the front of our house permanently closed, and never use the front door onto Holywell Hill. I do occasionally worry that by living where we do for 30 years, we may have put our health at risk.

“The air pollution at the top of Holywell Hill has far exceeded the limits set by the EU for decades.”

Earlier this year, campaigners worried about the level of deadly air pollution took matters in to their own hands by measuring pollution levels with specialist equipment. They found that pollution exceeded EU limits in half the locations they tested.

St Albans Green Party members, led by Councillor Simon Grover, put up nitrogen dioxide detectors for two weeks in strategic locations around the city centre.

Back in April, when the lab analysis findings were released, Cllr Grover explained that the worst offending area was the Peahen junction at the top of Holywell Hill, “with pollution more than double the limit.

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“Other locations that exceeded it were Alban City School, Catherine Street, Ashley Road roundabout, and a location further down Holywell Hill.”

At a recent environment scrutiny committee meeting councillors were told there was a continuing problem within the city centre’s air quality management area (AQMA).

In 2004, St Albans council declared the AQMA in the city centre at the Peahen junction, including London Road, Holywell Hill and Chequer Street.

The area comprises residential and commercial units, and is a major route into the shopping area in the city, which has a significant number of freight deliveries.

Additionally with the market held twice a week, with about 160 stalls which draw large goods traffic, traffic issues can be exacerbated.

A committee report added: “The main issues resulting in excessive traffic emissions include stationary/queuing/idling/slow moving traffic and inappropriate routing of HGVs.

“Furthermore, freight lorries (HGVs) exacerbate all these issues and contribute a disproportionately high levels to the local air quality.”

To help tackle the issue, a freight management plan will be prepared “with air quality at its heart by proposing measures to reduce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide”, the report added.

• The Green Party is conducting more testing next month, with Cllr Grover calling for “a low emission zone to control heavy, dirty lorries. We’d like investment in our pavements and cycle lanes to make them safer and more pleasant to use. And we’d like a city-wide 20mph limit.”