Poor air quality blighting homes

A STRING of cottages in a Suffolk village suffer unacceptably high levels of nitrogen dioxide, environment chiefs have found.

The post office and eight cottages in The Street, Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, are at the centre of what has been declared St Edmundsbury’s only “air quality management area” after it emerged its NO2 levels were 25% more than allowed under Government guidelines.

Further testing of the area will be carried out by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which will be speaking with Suffolk County Council, the highways authority, about possible solutions to the air quality issue there.

The short section of The Street in Great Barton was declared a management area on Wednesday night after it was found to have an annual average of 50mcg of NO2 per cubic metre. The allowed limit is 40mcg.

Principal environment health officer Richard Whitehead said because the residents living along The Street kept their windows closed most of the time because of the traffic noise, the council was “not too worried about the health implications”.

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The high NO2 levels in the area are understood to be caused by traffic on the A143 slowing, often to a standstill, to pull over for the post office and the pelican crossing.

He said: “We have to do further monitoring assessment and look at what actions can be taken.” He said although he was unable to say exactly what might be done, the council would be “looking at allowing the traffic to flow more freely through the village”.

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About five years ago, when there was talk of Ikea opening a distribution centre at Stanton, some people had hoped it would lead to a bypass for traffic on the A143 around Great Barton.

Those hopes, however, were dashed when the Ikea possibility fell through.

Ward councillor Sarah Broughton said: “There are a lot of cars that go through the village and a lot of lorries as well. I’m not certain there is a solution at the current time.”

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