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Green Party reveals air pollution in Maidstone the same as in central London

By Ed McConnell

Air pollution levels in Maidstone are the same as in central London yet little is being done about it.

In fact, the nitrogen dioxide monitoring station installed at the gyratory system has been removed for good, despite the junction being one of the most polluted in the town.

Kent County Council confirmed the station, which was removed at the start of the gyratory works, will be placed by Miller Heights, in Lower Stone Street, as it is "more suitable."

Work continues on the redesign of the gyratory system at Fairmeadow, Maidstone
Work continues on the redesign of the gyratory system at Fairmeadow, Maidstone

In response to the removal Maidstone's Green Party installed 'guerrilla' monitoring stations around the town and were left shocked by the results, with four of the five locations breaching the legal limit.

Upper Stone Street was a staggering two and a half times over, measuring 85.76mg/m.

The road was worse than Leicester Square, Oxford Circus and Regent Street.

The gyratory system came in second, measuring 70.12mg/m.

The top of Buckland Hill measured 57.34, while 48.21 was recorded at Fairmeadow and 39.29 at London Road's junction with Terrace Road.

Every year 130 deaths are linked to air pollution, which contributes to cancer, asthma, strokes and heart disease and is described as the single largest preventable health risk by the World Health Organization.

Stuart Jeffery from the Green Party
Stuart Jeffery from the Green Party

Stuart Jeffery, leader of the town's Green Party, said: "Of the five sites we tested four broke legal limits including and one was more than double. The fifth site was on the legal limit of 40mg/m. Two of the sites are where children walk to the three large schools on Buckland Road and Leafy Lane and thousands of children are being exposed to these toxic fumes each day.

"We were truly shocked to find that these results are in line with central London levels of pollution. While London is trying to improve its air quality with the congestion charge and good public transport, Maidstone is not only doing nothing but the council is preparing for huge increases in traffic meaning the air quality will get worse.

"We are calling for live air quality monitoring to be installed in a range of places in the town with a congestion charge, increase parking costs to better fund public transport, road closures at peak pollution times, tree planting, government scrappage scheme combined with a diesel vehicle ban/reduction.

"It is time to get serious about air pollution."

He added while closing roads at rush hour may lead to some other issues it would disperse traffic and stop pollution being concentrated on central routes, although did concede it was not a long-term solution.

Ben Hudson, who assisted with the project, said: "I have helped community groups run citizen science experiments across London, and being new to Maidstone I was keen to support the local Green Party in this experiment. I was shocked by the results, they would suggest that the air quality in Maidstone is no better than in central London, now that is surprising."

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