'Public health risk': Anyone moving into Northampton town centre should be warned about 'dangerous' air quality

People moving into Northampton town centre should be warned about 'dangerous' levels of air pollution due to concerns about the risk to their health, a politician has claimed.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, Martin Sawyer, believes Northampton Borough Council and developers should warn new residents about the poor air quality.

Concerns have been raised about air quality levels on Drapery

Concerns have been raised about air quality levels on Drapery

A council spokesman said it is aware of a number of hotspots but buildings being just a few metres from the road is a major mitigating factor for the amount of pollutants people breathe in.

"I think the council is failing the residents of this town by not making it clear what the dangers are, particularly in Drapery," he said.

"For me it's Drapery that's the biggest issue as it's like a funnel for pollutants with the diesel buses."

Mr Sawyer's concerns were prompted by a plan to convert the former DW Sports store in Drapery into 14 new apartments and 'one or two retail units'.

While he supports the rejuvenation of the town centre by encouraging people to live there, the Lib Dem candidate believes more needs to be done to improve the air quality.

"I don't want to stop this type of development but want I want is for the council to be open and honest with the air quality issues," he said.

"In this case, when putting people into developments in the town centre, there should be a moral application from the council and the developers to bring this to the attention of tenants."

A council spokesman said it is in the process of designating the whole town centre as an 'air quality management area' to help tackle any pollution issues.

“As we’re sure Mr Sawyer will know, distance from the dwelling to the source of pollution is a major mitigating factor," the spokesman added.

“The further a building is from the road, the less likely it is to be affected by pollutants caused by traffic, and within just a few metres the effects dramatically reduce.

“Our air quality measurements are generally taken directly adjacent to the road, as is the case with Drapery, meaning the figures we report are the worst-case scenario.”

The most recently-published figures for nitrogen dioxide from the council's nearest monitoring stations, from September 2018, exceed the Governments annual mean target.

Mr Sawyer said he has no reason to expect air quality to have improved on Drapery as no significant measures have been taken to mitigate the problem.

His own air quality readings in Drapery from April recorded particulate readings over twice the government target and peaked at seven times the target.

"I call on Northampton Borough Council to take into consideration the public health issues of poor air quality when considering planning applications in areas of the town known to have poor air quality," he said.

"Failure to do so will put peoples long term health at risk and may result in premature deaths which would otherwise be avoidable."

Mr Sawyer is also frustrated that the most-recently published NO2 data is almost a year old as he said the council receives the raw figures every month.

But a council spokesman said: “We regularly monitor air quality and publish the raw data on our website as soon as it is available."