Musselburgh Roads May be Changed to Combat Pollution Problem?

News — By on December 16, 2013 4:51 pm

RADICAL steps could be taken in a bid to combat high levels of air pollution in the heart of Musselburgh

Changes to the layout of roads in the town centre could be given the go-ahead in an attempt to restrict the number of vehicles. Newly released figures show that Nitrogen Dioxide (NO) levels are “just exceeding” permitted rates. Councillors have already given the green light to an ‘air quality action plan’, but that could contain revolutionary moves to solve the problem. Councillor Norman Hampshire, cabinet spokesperson for the environment, told Tuesday’s cabinet meeting: “This is an issue that has evolved over a number of councils and they have not been able to address the problems.” He said that various alterations had been made to the traffic flow in the town centre, yet the traffic flow was not improving. He added: “We are looking at additional housing and that is also going to increase the volume of traffic, The Labour councillor said there would be issues in the future and there would have to be “radical decisions” made to address the problem. That could pave the way for traffic to be diverted away from the town’s High Street. Mr Hampshire said: “There is no easy solution to build a new route to get from one side of Musselburgh to the other. “We might have to come up with some decision that might not be popular in the future.” Councillor David Berry (Ind) highlighted the importance of the town to the county. “The key thing is Musselburgh is the biggest town and probably the biggest retail centre we have in East Lothian,” he said. Mr Berry felt having a very busy High Street in terms of traffic was “counter-productive” in efforts to redevelop the area’s economy. Bus companies could also play a vital role in any steps taken to improve air quality in the town centre. Part of the action taken by the council included the local authority meeting with bus operators to discuss emission levels. At the same time, the relocation of bus stops could also be considered, while measures could be taken to reduce engine idling. In 2011, the average daily flow of traffic on the street was 17,800 vehicles and up to 500 buses. Councillor Stuart Currie, Musselburgh East ward member, agreed that there was no easy solution to the problem

According to the report before councillors, the action plan could take as long as 18 months to complete following the Air Quality Management Assessment (AQMA) declaration. But councillors were keen to see matters accelerated and a report brought to them as quickly as possible. Council official David Evans has also agreed to meet with the town’s community council to discuss the matter. The report comes on the back of a warning from Green MSP Alison Johnstone who, in light of the air pollution levels in Musselburgh, accused the local authority of having its head in the sand and putting the health and wellbeing of local people at risk.

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