Derry records North’s highest pollution level

Car Exhaust Fumes TT4807-159JS
Car Exhaust Fumes TT4807-159JS

Roadside pollution levels at Derry’s Marlborough Street/Creggan Hill junction were the highest recorded in the North last year.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said the local authority is currently considering a range of measures to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the area - and to improve air quality in all five of the local air quality management areas in the city.

Monitoring at the junction undertaken by the North’s Department of the Environment show an annual mean of 64 microgrammes per cubic metre.

EU safety levels of the pollutant, which can affect human health by causing inflammation of the airways and which is caused primarily by vehicle emissions, are set at 40 microgrammes.

Readings at the junction have exceeded the 40micorgrmmes mark every month since November 2011.

“Council’s Air Quality Action Plan for Creggan Road lists measures such as restriction of Heavy(HGVs) Goods Vehicles and signage to suggest alternative routes,” the council spokeswoman continued.

“Although alternative route signage is currently in place, DRD Roads Service completed the consultation process for HGV restriction concluding that this Action Plan measure is not feasible due to police enforcement issues: most HGVs using this area are not through traffic as such, rather deliveries to domestic properties, with such access exempted from the Order restricting heavy vehicles.

“Council will therefore explore other measures to reduce pollution levels at Creggan Road.”

The spokeswoman said a monitoring process is currently underway at all five of Derry’s Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).

“Detailed traffic surveys, including fleet breakdown, have previously been completed by specialist contractors to assist in this modelling.

“These results will inform an updated Action Plan Progress report on the best way forward for redressing high pollution levels at the AQMA locations.

“As some of the AQMAs are marginally exceeding health limit values( Spencer Road, Strand Road, Buncrana Road / Racecourse Road), the modelling results may evidence a decrease in pollution levels as there is some evidence that traffic volumes may have decreased in some areas.”

Derry’s Air Quality Action Plan was last updated in 2012.

The council spokeswoman said, as stated in that plan, “ it is important to acknowledge that, having explored the feasibility of localised / engineered measures at some of the AQMAs and the fact that many of these measures may/will not be achievable, other measures, must now be considered”.