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Asthma fears sparked by spike in Herne traffic

Fears of a rise in children developing asthma have been sparked after it was revealed 11,000 cars travel through the centre of a Kent village each day.

Parish councillors are worried an increase in emissions in Herne, near Herne Bay, could result in greater numbers of residents developing a range of lung and heart conditions.

An example of the congestion in the centre of Herne. Picture: Hernehub
An example of the congestion in the centre of Herne. Picture: Hernehub

A report prepared by Herne and Broomfield Parish Council states the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – a gas released by cars – at the junction between Herne Street and School Lane has risen “exponentially”.

It cites figures from Canterbury City Council which show a rise of a third in the emissions since 2014, from 30 micrograms per cubic metre to 40.

According to limits set by the European Union, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, the average NO2 level should be below 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Parish councillor Carol Davis attributes the worrying increase to a proliferation of cars along the village’s main thoroughfare.

“There are many, many more cars than there ever were,” she said. “The parish council is worried there could be more people with illnesses.

Carol Davis, vice-chairman of Herne and Broomfield Parish Council
Carol Davis, vice-chairman of Herne and Broomfield Parish Council

“I do know there are people who are suffering and our schools aren’t far away from the centre of the village.

“We get some huge tractors and trailers coming through the village, and little ones are breathing it all in.”

The parish council report estimates that as many 11,000 vehicles travel through Herne each day.

It also lists a range of illnesses it says air pollution is a contributing factor to – including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Canterbury City Council has devised a plan to reduce air pollution – which is estimated to have contributed to 81 deaths across the district – in the village.

'We get some huge tractors and trailers coming through the village, and little ones are breathing it all in' - Parish cllr Carol Davis

"With the road being so low at the junction of Herne Street and School Lane, it makes the gases stay there and because the houses are so close to the road it helps to hold it all in," Cllr Davis continued.

"We are looking at ways to get more trees planted along the roads - that would help with the pollution."

City council spokesman Rob Davies says the authority has installed more air-quality monitoring points in Herne to keep track of the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the area.

It will also develop signs telling motorists not to run their engines when they are at a stop.

Mr Davies added: “We have been in regular contact with the parish council to update them on the work that's taking place, and are pleased to say we've had positive feedback on this.

An aerial view of Strode Farm. Picture: Martin Apps
An aerial view of Strode Farm. Picture: Martin Apps

“Ultimately, though, it is only going to be the completion of the Herne bypass through the Strode Farm housing development site that is going to resolve the village's air quality issue.”

It was revealed last month that highways chiefs from Kent County Council are aiming to begin work on the first phase of the Herne Relief Road in 2021 – if it secures the £7.7m needed to fund the project quickly.

The sum is expected to be made up of contributions from developers - called Section 106 funding - at the former Herne Bay Golf Club, Strode Farm and Hillborough.

The £2.3m from Hollamby Estates, the housebuilder at the Strode Farm site, has not yet been received.

Documents state the company will have to hand the money over before 250 homes are built on the plot.

In addition, no agreement is in place with the housebuilders at Hillborough for the remaining £2m.

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