Row over efforts to tackle pollution problems in Durham City

Pollution problems in Durham City have been branded one of county bosses’ ‘biggest failures’ of the last decade – but chiefs say things have been improving.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 10:28 am
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 1:16 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay

Durham County Council (DCC) is approaching nine years since it accepted it needed to improve air quality across a swathe of the city.

And as leaders prepare for it to be extended for the third time, their efforts to curb emissions at congestion hotspots have been called into question. “We declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in 2011 and spent years waiting for an action plan,” said Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Mark Wilkes.

“In 2014 we expanded the pollution area but it still took five years to put a plan of action in place and years later the area is being expanded again to the area around Church Street, an area with a large population of young people. I say the failure to address air pollution is one of the biggest failures of this local authority, cabinet and senior management have failed to take action to deal with this.”

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Coun Wilkes, speaking at a meeting of DCC’s Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added efforts to tackle the problem had been hampered by lack of funding. His Lib Dem colleague Liz Brown said the AQMA, which is declared when levels of nitrogen dioxide breach the government’s limits, was ‘going nowhere’, despite an action plan adopted in 2016.

The AQMA stretches from the Stonebridge pub, in Neville’s Cross, along the A690 as far as the Gilesgate roundabout, and also takes in parts of Gilesgate and Elvet.