Rural village is one of worst polluted

Lorries trundle through Newton
Lorries trundle through Newton

Statistics this week 
revealed Newton village has one of the highest polluted roads in Scotland.

Statistics this week revealed Newton village has one of the highest polluted roads in Scotland.

Friends of the Earth Scotland, which published league tables this week, claims to have identified Scotland’s most polluted streets for 2013.

The tables have been produced following analysis of data gathered by roadside and kerbside monitoring around Scotland.

It found Newton was amongst the top 18 roads which recorded higher than average levels of particulate matter (PM10).

The fine particles are considered to be among the most dangerous of pollutants and fresh research has linked continued exposure to fine particles with heart attacks and angina.

While the Scottish Air Quality Objective is 18 microgrammes per cubic metre, 19 microgrammes were recorded in the village. The local figures follow the introduction of air quality monitors at the village to measure possible pollution from the worksfor the Forth Replacement Crossing.

Tom Conn, West Lothian Council’s executive councillor for the environment, said: “The A904 does encounter a high volume of traffic and, although no historical pollution data is available for the A904, the increase in heavy transportation associated with the new Forth Road crossing may well be a contributing factor to the current air quality issues.

“The levels of pollutants in this area exceed the Scottish standard, however the figures still have to be ratified. If confirmed, we will consider the steps required. As an interim measure, officers intend to raise these concerns at next month’s Forth Replacement Crossing environmental liaison group.

‘‘The group was set up by Transport Scotland to discuss the Forth Crossing project and address issues to ensure that all actions possible are being carried out to reduce potential pollution contribution from the works.

“We will continue to monitor air quality levels and work with the community and Transport Scotland to further reduce pollution in Newton.”

But Transport Scotland has questioned claims made by Councillor Conn that the FRC project may be responsible for the figures.

A spokesman said: “M9 Junction 1A, part of the Forth Replacement Crossing scheme opened to traffic in February 2013, providing a direct link between the M9 and the existing road bridge.

‘‘ The junction is intended to reduce the overall volume of traffic travelling on the A904 and through Newton.

“Transport Scotland traffic flow information shows that the average number of HGVs has reduced by 52 per cent between February and July 2013 compared with the same period in 2012. In addition, the average for overall traffic is down 13 per cent between February and July 2013 and the same period in 2012..’’