Borough pollution absorbed by greenery

Haigh Woodland Park
Haigh Woodland Park

There are vast differences in how Wigan manages to cope with pollution using its green spaces, new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the varying levels of noxious substances being absorbed by vegetation across the borough.

Areas such as Haigh Woodland Park are spectacularly cleaning up the environment, with one square kilometre absorbing 9,206kg of pollution, almost double the UK average of 5,619kg.

The concrete jungle, though, is struggling to absorb the harmful emissions with the square kilometre covering Wigan town centre accounting for 120kg and the area to the west of it, including Wigan Pier, dealing with just 90kg.

The ONS researchers also show the health benefits of pollution clean-ups, with Greater Manchester’s absorption rate saving the NHS £16.73 per person, just over the national average.

Wigan and Leigh Green Party chair Will Patterson said the data showed the importance of the green belt.

He said: “I was surprised how different results you get quite close to each other. I was expecting the problem would be clearly not dealt with in the centre but then things would gradually get better.

“This shows that if we take green belt areas away it will result in an incredibly patchy outcome where it is far harder to deal with pollution.

“It’s also good to see the figures show a massive health benefit to the NHS.”

The town hall said more was being done on air quality.

Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure and regulatory services, said: “We are lucky in Wigan borough to have 70 per cent green space so there is a large area where vegetation can absorb air pollution.

“While our air quality is overall within legal limits we are not complacent and have still pledged our commitment to take action to improve air quality to ensure our residents aren’t exposed to harmful air pollution.

“Everybody can do their bit to improve the quality of air for example by travelling by bike or walking where possible instead of using the car.

“We are currently working with Transport for Greater Manchester to implement the GM low-emission strategy and air quality action plan.”