Derry pollution over safe limit

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Levels of potentially harmful pollution at one of Derry’s busiest streets has exceeded the safe limit every month for the past two years.

Kerbside analysis of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at the junction of Creggan Hill and Marlborough Street show levels of the gas, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems, have continually exceeded the EU safe limit every month since November 2011.

EU safety levels of the pollutant, caused by vehicle emissions, are set at 40 microgrammes per cubic metre. So far the annual mean at the Creggan Hill junction is 70 microgrammes.

In 2012 the annual mean was 63 microgrammes.

Derry City Council say pollution in the area “ historically been high and in exceedence of health limit values.”

A spokeswoman said monitoring pollution levels in the area started almost two years ago.

“Derry City Council installed a continuous chemi-luminescent analyser at a monitoring station at the junction of Marlborough Street and Creggan Road in November 2011 to quantify longer term annual average and short term maximum hourly Nitrogen Dioxide levels against which EU health limit values are set. “

She said measures have been introduced to reduce the pollution while further measures were under consideration.

“To reduce pollution levels, Council produced an Air Quality Action Plan for Creggan Road listing measures such as restriction of Heavy Goods Vehicles and signage to suggest alternative routes.

“The signage is currently in place but the vehicle restriction is being undertaken by DRD Roads Service who are progressing the consultation process culminating in the passing of an Order to restrict heavy vehicles,” the council spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile Derry City Council has also confirmed it is considering declaring another Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in the city.

Currently five areas of the city have been deemed AQMAs - Creggan Road/Infirmary Road junction; Dale’s Corner, Buncrana Road/Racecourse Road junction, portion of Strand Road at Aberfoyle Terrace and portion of lower Spencer Road.

The council spokeswoman has now confirmed the Bishop Street/ Abercorn Road junction is also currently being investigated to assess if AQMA declaration is necessary.

If an area is designated an AQMA the local authority must amend its Air Quality Action Plan to include measures aimed at cutting smog levels

More info on Derry’s air quality is available online at www.airqualityni.co.uk