St Albans still suffering high air pollution levels

PUBLISHED: 10:56 25 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:56 25 November 2016

Cllr Simon Grover (back right) with other Green Party members who are concerned by air pollution in St Albans city centre.

Cllr Simon Grover (back right) with other Green Party members who are concerned by air pollution in St Albans city centre.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

Experts will speak at a public meeting about St Albans’ air pollution problem tonight (Friday), after receiving ‘deeply concerning’ monitoring results.

Recent testing has confirmed that known pollution ‘hotspots’ in Holywell Hill and St Peter’s Street are still posing risks to people’s health – with no sigificant improvement of those locations’ air quality since 2004.

But, worryingly, high pollution levels are also being reported along most of Hatfield Road and other locations, including Luton Road in Harpenden.

Breaches of safe, legal limits were revealed after the Green Party completed a second air pollution monitoring exercise across St Albans and Harpenden, following on from its monitoring in March-April.

Green district councillor Simon Grover said that the findings showed that “much of central St Albans greatly exceeds the legal limits laid down for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The results are deeply concerning”.

Monitoring results revealed:

• Other danger spots include parts of London Road, Ashley Road and Drakes Drive in St Albans, and Station and Southdown Roads in Harpenden.

• While the legal annual mean limit is 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air (µg/m3), the highest measurement was 71 µg/m3, outside Café Rouge in Holywell Hill.

• Other locations above the limit included The Crown pub junction - opposite Clarence Park - on Hatfield Road, Devdas on Harpenden Road, and the Great Northern on London Road, while in Harpenden, Station Road also breached safe levels.

• Places measuring above 50 µg/m3 included outside Bill’s on Chequer Street and Poundworld in St Peter’s Street, while air pollution levels outside the Farmer’s Boy pub in London Road, Thompson St Albans restaurant on Hatfield Road and the taxi rank along St Peter’s Street all recorded over 60 µg/m3 NO2.

Local Green Party campaigner Keith Cotton said: “Some areas in our district breach health guidelines around critical areas of congestion and public exposure.”

The organisation has welcomed the Hertfordshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board’s commitment to work in partnership with local authorities on the issue as ‘positive’.

However, Keith said, both Herts county and St Albans district councils had “yet to put in place effective measures to help deal with this hidden menace, as evidenced by the poor results in our indicative monitoring exercises”.

A public meeting will explore and discuss possible measures to tackle air pollution today, Friday, November 25, at Trinity United Reformed church, Beaconsfield Road in St Albans. Speakers at the meeting, which starts at 7pm, include representatives of the British Lung Foundation, the Green Party, and Stephen Joseph, CEO of the Campaign for Better Transport.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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