‘ENOUGH is enough’, say residents who believe air pollution is harming their health.
People living on Boot Hill in Weymouth are seriously worried about high level of pollution on the road.
A new report shows that the levels of nitrogen dioxide recorded on Rodwell Road, particularly in the Boot Hill area, are some of the highest in the Dorset and up to double the levels of recordings taken in other parts of Weymouth.
Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant caused by traffic which has adverse health effects on breathing and particularly affects asthma sufferers.
Residents have been campaigning about the pollution levels on the road since the new traffic light system was installed in 2011 and have been refused any compensation from the council as the changes ‘did not alter the road’. Linda Skuse and her neighbours have been in contact with Dorset County Council over the issue. She said: “We know that living on a main road, you will get traffic but the pollution caused since these traffic lights have been put in is ridiculous.
“You can’t leave washing to hang outside because it turns black. If you dust in the morning, by the afternoon there is already a thick layer of dust back again.
“There have been occasions where the stuff coming out of the lorries is so thick that you can’t even see across the road.”
Diffusion tubes on the road are checked on a monthly basis and indicate the pollution levels on the hill are higher than elsewhere in the town.
It is said that the traffic problems have also had detrimental effect on house prices on the road.
Jenny and Mick Houghton lived in Weymouth for 20 years but have now relocated to Blackpool after losing more than £40,000 on their house.
“We had to put in triple glazed windows in the living room because of the noise and in three weeks they were black.“Pollution was always high on the road but when the traffic lights were put in it doubled. I had to start using an inhaler,” said Jenny.
“When we originally put our house on the market it was up at £197,000 and after the lights were put in it was dropped to £189,000.”
The road often sees large build-ups of traffic travelling towards Portland, with large lorries, coaches and double-decker buses, struggling to get up the hill.
The government states that the annual mean of nitrogen dioxide in the air should not exceed 40µg.m-3 and if it does, the area must be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) The most recent data from 2013 diffusion tube readings indicates that the annual mean of nitrogen dioxide on Rodwell Road was up to 48.26µg.m-3 in the worst case.
However, according to Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, once the number had been adjusted for bias, and had been averaged with the readings from an automatic monitor which is placed on the corner of Wyke Road, the levels on Boot Hill did not exceed 40µg.m-3, and they are unconcerned about the level of pollution on the road.
Resident Phil Hoskins added:“They won’t give us any compensation, but who’s going to pay for treatments when we all end up in hospital due to this?”
The residents have also asked the council for reports on noise pollution as the last was completed in 2011, before the installation of the traffic lights.
Councillor Mike Goodman, spokesman for community safety at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said: “The council will continue to actively monitor air quality levels in the Boot Hill-Rodwell area and respond to concerns of residents who contact us.”
Nitrogen dioxide is associated with adverse effects on human health
At high levels NO2 causes inflammation of the airways. Long term exposure may affect lung function and respiratory symptoms.
NO2 also enhances the response to allergens in sensitive individuals. High levels of NOX can have an adverse effect on vegetation, including leaf or needle damage and reduced growth.
The residents would like to see the following action taken:
– The traffic lights removed
– A safer pedestrian crossing
– Heavy vehicles diverted
– Noise monitors placed on the houses
– Carbon monitors in their homes
MP shows his sympathy with the people living on Boot Hill
SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax said: “I really sympathise with the people living on Boot Hill.
“They have 40-ton trucks shaking their houses and exhaust fumes pouring into their homes.
“My suggestion would be to perhaps consider removing the traffic lights.
“Most problems have a solution and I hope something can be done about this.”
Dan Brember, councillor for Rodwell at Dorset County Council, said: “As I understand the traffic management system is currently under review and changes are planned, however I don’t think they are likely to be great scale changes and the reintroduction of a roundabout isn’t going to happen.
“Early reports have indicated that the traffic flow has improved since the implementation of the new system.
“However, if the residents’ health is being negatively affected and house prices decreased as a result, that is a very serious concern and needs to be investigated.”
Survey of Weymouth’s transport to take place
A SURVEY of Weymouth’s transport system is due to be carried out in the autumn.
Tens of millions of pounds were spent on transport projects in the build up to the Olympic sailing events held in Weymouth and Portland.
But not all schemes were welcomed- including replacing roundabouts with an ‘intelligent traffic light system’.
Many locals blasted the expensive overhaul and hailed the transport package a ‘waste of money’.
They criticised the replacement of roundabouts with ‘too many’ traffic lights which they say have created ‘dangerous junctions’ and increased congestion.
Roundabouts converted included those on the harbourside near Asda, and either side of the Swannery bridge.
Traffic lights replaced mini roundabouts at the top of King Street on the seafront as well as on Boot Hill – which also resulted in a shake-up of some road systems.
One of the aims of the £9.3m project was to improve traffic flow around the town and reduce the need for motorists to use King Street and the Esplanade which often gets congested.
Independent experts will now carry out a stage four road safety audit.
The auditors will take into account all road users, not just motorists.
They will look at key areas of the scheme to ensure it meets national standards.
This is the final stage of evaluation of the scheme.
Previous inspections looked at the design and construction of the project.
This time the auditors will take into account accident records to look at any trends.
After identifying potential road safety problems they will make recommendations on possible solutions.
The county council will take this advice along with the diverse and widespread views of local residents to improve areas such as: Boot Hill/Harbour Crossroads; the Wyke Road/Rodwell Road junction and The Jubilee Clock junction on the Esplanade.
Cllr Mike Byatt, county council member for Weymouth, said: “The county council have been mindful of the needs of the town’s residents and visitors. This review will help ensure that our transport plan is fit for purpose and is integrated into Weymouth town centre’s ‘master’ plan.”