Council facing 'tremendous' challenge to clear up Doncaster's air

The A630 in Conisbrough is one of seven pollution hotspots identified by Doncaster Council.
The A630 in Conisbrough is one of seven pollution hotspots identified by Doncaster Council.

Doncaster faces a ‘tremendous’ challenge to clean up its air and reduce the number of pollution related deaths, according to the council.

A review of air quality in 2016/17 found there were seven areas in the borough where pollution exceeded national guidelines.

Doncaster's pollution hotspots.

Doncaster's pollution hotspots.

This was primarily due to high levels of nitrogen dioxide as a result of vehicle emissions.

Public Health England figures show there were 160 deaths attributable to air pollution in Doncaster in 2010.

The council has highlighted a number of steps it is taking to try to bring pollution levels down. But environmental campaigners say the measures are not enough, and more should be done.

The authority’s assistant director for environment Gill Gillies said: “Air quality across the majority of the borough is good.

The A630 in Warmsworth, just off junction 36 of the A1(M)

The A630 in Warmsworth, just off junction 36 of the A1(M)

“However there are some isolated areas, mainly on some of our main roads, which we have been working to improve.

“This is not an issue that affects just Doncaster but is actually a worldwide issue.”

The council has an air quality action plan, and says it has already put in place a number of measures designed to ‘improve and protect’ air quality. These are based on national guidelines.

“One such initiative is the ECO stars scheme which has received international recognition,” said Mrs Gillies.

Church Way.

Church Way.

“This initiative aims to make improvements to reduce fuel consumption, vehicle emissions and save money.

“We have also installed electric vehicle charging points as part of our parking policy promoting sustainable transport.

“Other schemes include priority bus lanes to encourage the use of public transport, park and ride schemes, educating the public and raising awareness of the various schemes in operation and improving cycling facilities in the borough.”

The areas the council has highlighted as pollution hotspots include the town centre along Trafford Way and Church Way, along the A630 from the A1(M) to the Balby Flyover, and the A630 in Conisborough.

Skellow.

Skellow.

These have been classed as air quality management areas, or AQMAs,

A recent report to the council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny panel said it would be a ‘tremendous challenge’ to make significant and long term improvements both in Doncaster and nationally.

The document said officers were ‘actively promoting’ the use of low emission vehicles, and the council had obtained an electric car for trial use.

It said an ‘air quality technical planning guidance’ document was at the draft stage

But Mrs Gillies said the burden could not just fall on the council.

“We have put a lot of initiatives in place but to help us tackle the issue of air quality we really need the public to play their part,” she said.

The A635 in Hickleton.

The A635 in Hickleton.

“If more people walked or cycled or even used public transport to make their journeys then this would help. Where possible you could car share and this would help reduce the number of journeys and this would go some way to help tackle air quality.”

Doncaster Green Party member Angela Curtis believes the council can do much more to improve the town’s air quality.

She has met with mayor Ros Jones and director of public health Dr Rupert Suckling to raise the issue several times, but is not satisfied with the action taken so far. She has also taken her case to Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband.

“It keeps getting kicked into touch but all they say back is they are governed by national guidelines.”

Mrs Curtis said the premature death figures for Doncaster showed the ‘devastating’ effects of pollution on people’s health and wellbeing.

“Children are particularly vulnerable,” she said.

“They play outside close to busy roads. They take more breaths than we do.

“And they never completely recover, setting them up for chronic ill health.”

And it’s not just health that suffers. Mrs Curtis said the country was losing billions of pounds as a result of days off sick caused by pollution.

“There are things Doncaster Council could do if they had the will,” she added.

Mrs Curtis called on the council to publish a new plan to tackle pollution.

And she urged the people of the borough to do their bit as well.

“Why aren’t people using park and ride more?” she said.

“Why isn’t there a surcharge for driving into town on your own?

“Why isn’t there a car share scheme?

“No-one in Doncaster has a clue that 160 people are dying prematurely.”

Doncaster's pollution hotspots:

The town centre along Trafford Way and Church Way

Along the A630 from the A1(M) to the Balby Flyover

The length of Carr House Road

In Bessacarr between the M18 and Warning Tongue Lane

Conisbrough Low Road and along the A630

Skellow adjacent to the A1

Hickleton along the A635