Pollution investigation over link road

A diffusion tube being installed by members of Stop Almond Brook Link Road (SABLR) carrying out a pollution study in Standish
A diffusion tube being installed by members of Stop Almond Brook Link Road (SABLR) carrying out a pollution study in Standish

CAMPAIGNERS have become citizen scientists to measure traffic pollution as part of their bid to get a controversial link road scrapped.

Members of Stop Almond Brook Link Road (SABLR) are conducting a study to monitor the air quality around Standish in their battle against the £5m route linking 600 new homes on two estates.

The protestors have been placing diffusion test tubes around the area earmarked for the link road to measure nitrogen dioxide levels in a study organised in partnership with the Network for Clean Air.

A total of 19 locations have been surveyed, with tubes placed along major roads including Pepper Lane, Preston Road and Almond Brook Road as well as close to Standish High School and near a local site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Gill Foster, SABLR’s health and road safety officer, said: “Almond Brook Road and Preston Road have been designated by Wigan Council as air quality management areas, which means pollution limits have been broken in the past and the council has said it is committed to not increasing harmful emissions.

“This link road, and the applications for housing associated with it, will drive a coach and horses through that policy.

“People are now much more aware of how harmful exhaust pollution is to health, especially to children, and many residents are concerned that this road will make pollution worse, especially near Standish High School.”

SABLR’s measurements are now being analysed by an independent laboratory, with the results expected to be published in around three weeks’ time. The campaign group has expressed serious concerns about the health implications of increased traffic using the road, running between Almond Brook Road and Pepper Lane, as well as the potential for environmental damage.

A leading doctor at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust expressed concern about the potential for young people developing asthma from traffic fumes earlier in the year, although his conclusions were strongly challenged by health bosses and the local authority.

SABLR is now asking Wigan Council to delay the application going before the planning committee until after the pollution study results are known.

Ms Foster said: “Neither the developers nor the council has undertaken a study of this comprehensive nature and so councillors will no doubt want to wait to see the results before they take any decision on this road.” Andrew Wood, the co-ordinator for the Oxford-based Network for Clean Air, visited Standish to oversee the study.

Mr Wood said: “The council should assess using workplace travel plans for Wigan town centre, a workplace parking levy, increasing cycling and walking; and better traffic management. That would reduce traffic and air pollution, and increase health and wellbeing.”