Fears have been raised over the health of the borough as a new report reveals air pollution levels are rising.
In five areas of Basingstoke it has exceeded the legal limit with high levels of nitrogen dioxide particles found in the air.
The report by the Basingstoke Transition Network (BTN) found particularly high levels around Thornycroft roundabout, Eastrop roundabout and Roman Road.
Councillors will meet to discuss the report at a Basingstoke and Deane council meeting on December 14.
Councillor Paul Harvey for Norden ward, said: “It’s really disappointing but I don’t believe the issue has truly been on the radar for the borough council.
“This is not an issue that is going to go away because we are dealing with a lot of growth in our area. We want this to be a prosperous and appealing place for people to live in.”
Cllr Harvey hopes the cabinet will authorise the undertaking of further research to help inform future policies.
The plan is to commit to implementing a much better system for the monitoring of air quality to ensure the borough’s residents enjoy ‘an excellent quality of life and improved environment’.
A recent report by the Royal College of Physicians said that around 40,000 deaths can be attributed to exposure to outdoor air pollution each year in the UK.
In addition, the heart, hormone systems, immunity as well as development and growth of the brain can all be harmed by air pollution.
Martin Biermann, a member of BTN, said: “The results are worrying. Unless we do something to clean up our air the health risk is only going to get worse as the town grows.
“We have made a series of recommendations to the council – but the main things we need to do are to reduce the number of car, bus and lorry journeys in our town and move to less polluting forms of transport as soon as possible.”
Over the past few months BTN, along with Friends of the Earth (FoE), bought and installed 14 air quality monitors across the town assessing the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air.
Levels in excess of 40 µg/m3 are above the legal annual maximum – Thornycroft measured at 41.4, with Eastrop roundabout coming in at 48.5 and a monitor at Thornhill traffic lights in Chineham racking up 56.2.
Aside from the five key areas, their report showed that air pollution levels in another four places were so close to the maximum levels that it is almost certain that on some days air pollution limits are being breached – New Road was measured as 39.1.
Cabinet Member for regulatory services and the environment Cllr Hayley Eachus said: “Good air quality is important to public wellbeing and we take our duty to review and assess air quality within our district very seriously.
“Each year the council prepares an air quality report which we submit to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. These findings are available on our website and show that the air quality in the borough is generally very good.
“The BTN monitoring was only carried out for one month at roadside locations where reading will be higher. This type of monitoring should be carried out for a minimum period of six months and the air quality standards apply at locations where the public would be exposed for long periods of time, such as their homes. When you take account of the distance, the levels indicated by the network’s monitoring are well below the national air quality standards at the nearest residential properties. Therefore the air pollution limits cannot be called ‘illegal’.
“However, we recognise there are areas that can be improved on. As a borough council we have no powers to implement changes to the road network that could assist with air quality issues although we work closely with the county council who have this responsibility. We are keen to work with the Basingstoke Transition Network and have already met with them to discuss this report and future actions.”