New equipment to monitor air pollution
Wednesday 10th April 2019 @ 11:08 by Lauren Entwistle

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

A monitoring station is being set up to keep tabs on the levels of air pollution on a busy Tameside road.

Planning chiefs have approved the introduction of a new air quality monitoring station at Manchester Road, near to the junction of the M60 slip road.

It will record concentrations of nitrogen oxide and particulates – a form of air pollution in the form of dust created from predominantly road transport.

Though not visible to the naked eye, they are found at ‘dangerous levels’ in many urban areas and on busy roads.

This particular section of highway in Ashton-under-Lyne is predicted to exceed the legal limits of nitrogen dioxide beyond 2020.

The new station will collect evidence to assess what impact local actions are having on the problem, and improve air quality.

The supporting statement submitted to Tameside council states: “Poor air quality has a real and significant effect on people’s health and according to Public Health England is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

“In particular, long term exposure to high levels of air pollution is known to contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or bronchitis, as well as cardiovascular problems, and reduces life expectancy.”

Greater Manchester particularly suffers with poor air quality, which is believed to contribute to around 1,200 deaths a year in the region.

There are 152 stretches of road within the conurbation where concentrations of nitrogen oxide are forecast to exceed the legal limit beyond next year.

A single air quality management area has been put in place which covers sections of each of the ten districts.

Proposals to charge high-polluting commercial vehicles to help cut levels of potentially lethal nitrogen dioxide were revealed by the Mayor Andy Burnham in February.

Under the plans high-polluting buses, lorries and taxis will face daily charges from 2021, with vans subject to the same fees from 2023.

Buses and lorries would be expected to pay £100 per day, with taxis and vans facing a £7.50 fee.

Currently there is a network of continuous monitoring stations across Greater Manchester which provide ‘essential information’ on air quality.

But an independent review  commissioned by Transport for Greater Manchester in 2016 concluded that the coverage was ‘insufficient’ to provide enough robust real-time data to support decision making.

It recommended that the network be upgraded with new additional monitoring stations to address gaps in coverage, and replacing outdated monitoring equipment at existing stations.

The review specifically recommended that a monitoring station is provided in Tameside.

This is to replace an old monitoring station at Two Trees School which is no longer operational due to plans to redevelop the school site.