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Have your say on traffic fumes in Chester city centre

Council promises action will be taken on reducing toxic gases and improving air quality

Eastgate Street, one of the main shopping high streets in Chester

A month long public consultation into the quality of air in Chester city centre was launched this week.

It will allow residents and businesses within the area have their say on traffic fumes and suggest how the situation can be improved.

Last week the Chronicle revealed that a council report into Cheshire West and Chester’s air quality highlighted serious failings in several areas.

Conservative Cllr Pamela Hall claimed the council had known about the issues for a long time but had not acted with suitable urgency.

However Cllr Richard Beacham, speaking on behalf of Cllr Karen Shore, this week said: “As an administration, air quality is a priority for us.”

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Cheshire West and Chester Council published its Air Quality Annual Status Report in October 2016 which detailed high levels of toxic gases throughout the borough.

Dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were recorded in Ellesmere Port town centre, Boughton in Chester and Frodsham due to emissions from vehicles.

Meanwhile there was a huge spike in sulphur dioxide (SO2) recorded within the village of Thornton le Moors as a result of fumes from local industry.

NO2 inhalation can cause respiratory problems while exposure to SO2 can lead to heart, circulatory, lung and eye health issues.

In the council’s four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) local air quality is monitored and priority given to action for improvement.

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Cllr Beacham said that the public consultation on ‘Air Quality in Chester City Centre’ which runs until April 17 will precede a new AQMA in mid-April.

“This must be viewed as a positive step, as we are taking positive action to address the issue,” he said.

Once formally declared, the council then has 12 months to produce an action plan for the area which will identify the different options to help improve air quality.

After the action plan is drafted, a second 12-week consultation will take place to seek the views of residents, businesses and community groups.

Maria Byrne, the council’s director of place operations, said: “Tackling poor air quality and improving the health of our residents is one of the council’s top priorities.

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“This measure is seen as a positive and vital first step in improving air quality in Chester city centre.

“We are keen to hear from individuals and local groups to help us shape our action plan to make improvements that will benefit us all. Please get in touch if you are interested.”

Anyone interested in taking part can click here, or email: environmentalprotection@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

People can also write to: Environmental Protection Team, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Wyvern House, The Drumber, Winsford, Cheshire, CW7 1AH.

Paper copies of the consultation documentation are available upon request by contacting the Environmental Protection Team by email or by phoning 0300 123 7038.

The UK is second only to Italy for the highest number of annual deaths in Europe from a major air pollutant, according to a European Environment Agency report.

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