Action needed over Anchor Hill pollution levels, urge Woking councillors
By mattcollison | Thursday, February 21, 2013, 11:41
KNAPHILL councillors are calling for urgent action to combat excessive levels of pollution found in their ward.
Diesel vehicles and congestion are likely to be the main source of nitrogen dioxide in Anchor Hill.
Woking Borough Council has proposed an AQMA in Anchor Hill (Copyright and database rights Ordinance Survey 2012)
A recent study found levels of nitrogen dioxide in Anchor Hill was almost 20 per cent higher than Government safety guidelines.
Concentrations of the asthma causing pollutant measured 47.7 micrograms per cubic metre according to latest Woking Borough Council figures for 2011.
The national objective for nitrogen dioxide is 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
The council announced last week (February 15) that it is to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Anchor Hill at the junction with Lower Guildford Road, Highclere Road and High Street in Knaphill.
The action plan, the first of its kind, will see diffusion tubes for monitoring of nitrogen dioxide installed at the corner of Anchor Hill and Lower Guildford Road.
But Knaphill residents are concerned new developments such as the approved new housing at Brookwood Farm by the A322 Bagshot Road and a Tesco Express opening next year will only add to pollution levels.
Knaphill councillors Saj Hussain and Melanie Whitehand said they were pressing for pollution reduction methods to be introduced as quickly as possible.
Cllr Hussain said one possible solution could be for Surrey Highways to re-align traffic lights at the junction to improve traffic flow.
He said: "I am very concerned. My biggest fear as I highlighted at the Brookwood Farm planning meetings was that the A322 traffic needs addressing.
"It is a big concern and I will be pressing for immediate realigning of the lights and having it monitored on a regular basis. There has to be a solution, we can't just let Knaphill be polluted."
Anchor Hill is not the only area in Woking to see higher than permitted pollutant levels.
Monitoring at the Victoria Way site in the town centre recorded 42.8 micrograms per cubic metre during 2011.
New monitoring tubes have been added in the Constitution Hill area where levels are withing ten per cent of the national objective.
Simon Birkett, founder and director of Clean Air in London, said: "Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas so any exceedance of World Health Organisation guidelines and legal limits is concerning.
"It is also the best indicator we have of traffic related air pollution which scientists say could be responsible for 15 to 30 per cent of all new cases of asthma in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults over 65 years of age.
"Diesel vehicles and congestion are likely to be the main sources of nitrogen dioxide in busy high streets."
The council now has 18 months to prepare an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels in the area and will be consulting residents and businesses.
Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, member of the Executive at Woking Borough Council, said: "The air quality within Woking borough is monitored regularly and it's positive that generally, the air quality in the borough is good.
"However, the reading in Anchor Hill is slightly higher than we would hope."