This Brighton street is among the worst in the country for air pollution

North Street Brighton was flagged up as an air pollution hot spot
North Street Brighton was flagged up as an air pollution hot spot

A Brighton street has been named among the worst in the country for air pollution levels.

Friends of the Earth revealed the 1,758 sites across the UK that are breaching air pollution limits.

And in the top ten worst-hit sites in the UK – excluding London – North Street in Brighton was named seventh.

Nearly two thousand locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, the environment organisation revealed today (February 27).

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Friends of the Earth said high levels of NO2 can cause a flare up of asthma or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing.

North Street Brighton was flagged up as an air pollution hot spot

North Street Brighton was flagged up as an air pollution hot spot

It said a leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic.

Now Friends of the Earth is campaigning for Clean Air Zones to be rolled out in far more places than are currently being planned, supported by measures such as improved infrastructure to support safe cycling and walking. This would see fewer polluting vehicles on our roads and would ultimately improve public health. Removing such vehicles would also contribute to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly two thousand locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air.

“Air pollution is often an issue thought of as affecting only the biggest cities. The reality is that unacceptably toxic air can be found across much of the UK, even in smaller towns. It is harming the health of people across the country and is especially bad for young children whose lungs are still developing.

“The government needs to step up and do more to help deal with this air pollution crisis – they can’t just carry on leaving the difficult decisions with local authorities, many of which are severely under-resourced.”

Bus company response

Brighton and Hove Buses said the area concerned was part of a low emission zone (LEZ), which covers Castle Square, North Street, Churchill Square and Western Road as far as Palmeira Square.

Martin Harris, Brighton & Hove Buses managing director, said: “As a bus company, we have a moral obligation to constantly cut emissions, reduce our fuel and energy use and encourage people out of their cars and onto sustainable public transport.  

“We won’t stop exploring and investing in new, cleaner and more efficient ways to run our business. There will be further annual investments in emissions-free vehicles, maintaining our position as one of the city’s biggest investors, exceeding £9m every year. It's a long-term investment in our fleet and in the health of the communities we serve.

“Euro VI diesel technology in buses is far more advanced than it is in other vehicles, particularly cars. An equivalent Euro VI diesel car emits 10 times more per passenger. What’s more, buses have been real-world tested for year and a full double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road.

“Buses are part of the solution, not the problem.”

He said the bus company was working with Brighton & Hove City Council and the Quality Bus Partnership, which includes the council and other bus operators, on road design changes to improve the flow of buses at the Clock Tower, and to make things easier for pedestrians.

“Better flows for buses are critical to air quality as emissions peak when vehicles pull away and accelerate short distances while stuck in traffic,” Martin said. “We’re also exploring the option of reducing the number of buses stopping in North Street.”

The bus company said it will 'continue to invest millions every year in cleaner vehicles, train our drivers to be more fuel efficient and work in partnership with the council to improve air quality in the city'.

Figures from Friends of the Earth

UK locations (outside of London) ranked by annual average level of NO2(in ug/m3) - the Objective is 40ug/m3:

Neville Street (NW Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 99

Fir Tree Close, Hickleton, Doncaster – 96

John O’Gaunts, Hickleton, Doncaster – 87

Hennef Way, Banbury – 84.8

Upper Stone Street, Maidstone – 79.3

Market Hill, Maldon – 78.97

North Street Clock Tower, Brighton – 77.9

Platform 3A/2B, Sheffield – 77

Neville Street (NE Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 76

Holyhead Road, Coventry – 75.6

UK locations ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3):

Earls Court Station, Kensington & Chelsea, London – 129.5

Junction North Circular Rd / Chartley Avenue, Brent, London – 115.39

IKEA, Hut, North Circular Road, Brent, London – 102.1

Neville Street (NW Tunnel entrance), Leeds – 99

Fir Tree Close, Hickleton, Doncaster – 96

Kensington H St/Kensington Church St, Kensington & Chelsea, London – 94.5

Euston Road, Camden, London – 92.45

Strand, City of Westminster, London – 92

High Street, Harlesden, Brent, London – 91.83

Haddon Hall Tower Bridge Road, Southwark, London – 90.79