AIR pollution on Linlithgow High Street could throw a spanner in the works of controversial plans for Burghmuir.
Following over 1400 comments on the application from developers Wallace Land, the environmental health department at West Lothian Council has recommended the designs for the east of the town be thrown out due to the potential impact on local air quality.
The masterplan includes a retail food store, petrol filling station, park and ride, hotel, residential care home, site for a health centre, community park and 600 private and affordable homes as well as an upgrade to Junction 3 onto the M9.
The council’s environmental watchdogs are concerned about the potential impact of pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM10), particularly on Linlithgow High Street where canyon effects occur, due to tall buildings and it being a narrow street.
Environmental health was not convinced the screening model used by the applicants properly addressed the canyon and congestion effect on the local air quality.
An environmental health spokesman said: “The development has the potential to adversely affect local air quality.
‘‘It is therefore imperative that detailed dispersal modelling is available to have a better understanding of the potential impact the Burghmuir development will have on local air quality within Linlithgow.
“Although concentrations of pollutants appear to have reduced in 2010, new evidence suggests a greater problem with NO2 pollution than previous monitoring would have suggested.”
Early results indicate some of the highest readings recorded for NO2 in West Lothian and environmental health officers say they require a more detailed assessment of the pollutants to fully assess the impact of the proposed development.
In contrast, Wallace Land say the development could improve air quality in Linlithgow town centre.
Jason Wallace of Wallace Land said: “Through our consultants we undertook a recognised modelling assessment to look at the environmental impact of our development on the town centre.
‘‘This indicated that, through the upfront delivery of the slip roads onto the M9, there would be an initial 25 per cent reduction in traffic through the town centre.
‘‘When the development is fully delivered, the impact on the town centre will be improved from the current situation.
“While transport officials in the council support these traffic figures through delivery of the slips, we understand that environmental health has yet to take the impact of the reduced traffic flows into account when assessing the environmental impact.
‘‘Other consultation resp- onses received have raised no issues with this application.”
Mr Wallace added they were planning to meet with transport officials and environmental health to consider the impact of the slips on town centre traffic and local air quality.
A council spokesman said the environmental health comments would be considered alongside other responses before a final recommendation was made.
The final date for comments from the public was March 9 but there remains a backlog still to be published on the website. It is thought the planning application will not come to the full council until October at the earliest.