Harborough village has dangerously high levels of air pollution

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Air quality experts have been called in by Harborough District Council to assess a local pollution black spot.

The air quality ‘fail’ is for a section of the A6 through Kibworth.

In 2016, the average measurement of harmful nitrogen dioxide on the road was 55 micrograms in each cubic metre of air. This was 37.5 per cent higher than the recommended maximum of 40.

Measurements were above recommended levels for 11 of the 12 months of the year.

Local county councillor Dr Kevin Feltham said: “November was particularly bad, when nitrogen dioxide levels in Kibworth were higher than most of the readings in London.”

In an email to the district council he added: “Children, parents, grandparents and others walk along the A6 at this location to use the pelican crossing, so are breathing these high pollution levels.

“There are several homes along this stretch too. People already complain to me about the smell and fumes from the traffic.”

He said he was particularly concerned that high NO2 levels were being found “in a semi rural location rather than an urban location”.

Road transport is the largest source of nitrogen oxide emissions in the UK.

Most local road users will know that stop-start traffic grinds through the Kibworth A6 bottleneck, often exacerbated by roadworks.

Alerted by a year of poor air quality figures in Kibworth, the district council is now employing air quality specialists to assess the problem.

The specialist will take six to eight weeks to see how widespread the pollution problem is and map out an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

The aim is to prepare a full report for a council meeting in June. The short-term aim would be to keep traffic moving through Kibworth, to avoid a build-up of traffic fumes.

A possible longer-term aim would be a Kibworth bypass, but the “cost” of that would be yet more housebuilding in the area - housing developers would supply much of the money for the bypass.

Raised levels of nitrogen dioxide inflames the lining of the lungs, and increases the likelihood of respiratory problems.