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Air pollution in Dorset towns still exceeding limits

West Dorset council progress report on air quality in Dorchester and Chideock finds that levels of nitrogen dioxide are still being exceeded

Levels of nitrogen dioxide in Dorchester and Chideock are continuing to breach legal limits, according to a report by West Dorset district council.

And, the council is set to discuss ongoing air quality issues in the two towns – which are both in Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) at a meeting next week (March 11).

Air quality in several West Dorset towns is breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide

Air quality in several West Dorset towns is breaching limits for nitrogen dioxide

According to the report, work is ongoing with regards to measures recently drawn up to combat air pollution levels in Dorchester and Chideock as part of an Air Quality Action Plan, with a further report on the progress of these measures due in April 2014.

The council may also consider declaring an AQMA in the town of Bridport, where annual levels of nitrogen dioxide due to road traffic on East Road have exceeded limits since 2003.

Members of the council resolved in 2011 not to declare an AQMA in Bridport but instead to continue monitoring levels of nitrogen dioxide in the area. This was because, the report states, only one property was affected by the nitrogen dioxide levels and there were ‘limited staff resources’ and ‘limited action that the council could take to resolve the problem’.

However, the report states that modelling in Bridport suggests that air quality objectives are likely to be met in 2015 ‘without any additional action being taken’. Still, Defra has the power to direct the council to declare an AQMA in the town if it chooses to.

Financial implications

The report also includes data on the council’s expenditure on air quality work. It estimates that staff spend approximately 60 days per year (5 days a moth) drafting air quality reports, facilitating meetings and undertaking the monitoring survey.

Additionally, the council says it spends £1,400 a year on nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes and £2,400 a year on costs associated with running the continuous nitrogen dioxide analyser in Chideock.

‘These costs will continue to be incurred to monitor NO2 levels in Dorchester, Chideock and Bridport,’ the report states.

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