Transport charity claims plans to relieve congestion around Brampton could see harmful nitrogen dioxide levels rise
Measures to prevent congestion on a major UK road could see a breach of legal limits for air pollution, a transport charity has warned.
The Campaign for Better Transport has examined the governments 1.5 billion scheme to widen the A14 corridor and warns it could push a number of locations above current European Union limits.
If implemented, the scheme would involve widening parts of the A14, the A1, and building a dual carriageway around Huntingdon.
A public consultation on the alterations closed on Sunday (October 13), and an announcement on the preferred route is due later this year.
One specific area of concern identified by the transport charity in its response to the consultation is Brampton, which has long been close to or above the legal limit of 40m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) of nitrogen dioxide.
Brampton is close to eight lanes of traffic on the A1 and A14, which could increase under the proposals. Likewise, the area between Bar Hill and Girton would see eight to 10 lanes of traffic if the plans go ahead.
Sian Berry, Campaign for Better Transports roads and sustainable transport campaigner, said: The governments plans for the A14 will seriously worsen air pollution for people living along the route and risks breaching legal limits, whilst only providing a temporary improvement in congestion.
It would be far more cost effective and sensible to look at ways of reducing traffic levels to help solve congestion more permanently and sustainably without breaking the law and damaging public health.
Maria Arnold, from campaign group ClientEarth, added: ClientEarth is concerned about the air quality impacts of the proposal, especially considering the Air Quality Management Areas along the line of the proposed works. Environmental statements should be made available at the earliest opportunity to avoid inefficiency in developing proposals which will not be viable due to their impacts on air pollution.
However, a Transport for London (TfL) spokeswoman said: The proposed changes to the A14 will move long-distance traffic away from Huntingdon and help to improve air quality there, not make it worse.
The government understands the impact a national road project like the A14 can have on air quality, and that is why a full environmental assessment will be completed before any work happens.
Last month, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) warned the Highways Agency should act to kerb vehicle emissions, which it said contribute to thousands of deaths every year (see airqualitynews story).