Air pollution worsened by Westgate Towers traffic trial in Canterbury
Figures show a rise in air pollution near St Dunstan's
by Alex Claridge
Air quality at the top of St Dunstan’s Street in Canterbury has
worsened since the Westgate Towers traffic trial began a year
Data collected from a monitoring station outside St Dunstan’s
Church shows that last week there were 40 parts of the pollutant
nitrogen dioxide per billion parts of air - when the trial
began there were less than 38.
Steve Coombs, of the campaign group Get Canterbury Moving, has
been collating the figures and says the situation has reached
He said: “The data shows that there has been a steady overall
increase over the duration of the trial.
“The result now breaches a threshold set by Europe and by the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and means that
the situation requires attention.
“This is something which almost certainly will continue until
the scheme concludes and traffic patterns return to that previous
to it, with the figures then gradually dropping back down.”
Last March the city and county councils controversially changed
the traffic system around the Westgate Towers.
It meant all traffic going into Canterbury would be barred from
driving through the towers and only buses and taxis could go around
them into St Peter’s Place. The aim was to protect the 14th century
towers and reduce traffic movements.
The Westgate Towers
traffic trial has proved controversial
Because of the changes, the monitoring station at the end of St
Peter’s Place next to the roundabout has recorded lower pollution
But Mr Coombs added: “This is an example of how this trial has
resulted in simply shifting a problem rather than tackling it.”
The trial has led to fewer vehicles using St Peter’s Place, but
they have been pushed onto other roads, especially London Road and
Station Road West.
Last month, highways chiefs at county hall announced that in the
face of massive opposition to the Westgate Towers scheme, they
would restore the original system when the one-year trial finishes
at the end of March.
"This is an example of how this trial has resulted in simply shifting a problem rather than tackling it." – campaigner Steve Coombs
This brought them
into conflict with Conservatives on the city council, who devised
the scheme and insist it is a success.
Last week, at the meeting of the Joint Tranpsortation Board –
which comprises city and county councillors for Canterbury – Cllr
Peter Vickery-Jones forced through a motion calling on the KCC
highways department to delay the termination of the scheme until
Cllr Vickery-Jones, the executive member for transport on the
city council, believes the later date will provide fuller
statistics for analysis of the scheme.
“I don’t doubt that pollution has gone up at the top of St
Dunstan’s, but that is because there is more traffic there and less
in St Peter’s Place,” Cllr Vickery-Jones said.
“It’s not a case of looking at the odd spike in the data, it’s
about getting the full information and so far this is not an air
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