Toxic gases in Hitchin force council to take action

Toxic gases have been found in the area near the roundabout, caused by cars and lorries

Toxic gases have been found in the area near the roundabout, caused by cars and lorries - Credit: Archant

Toxic gases found in a residential area have forced members of North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Cabinet to approve an action plan to improve the air quality.

High quantities of nitrogen dioxide were found in Stevenage Road, Hitchin, late last year.

NHDC has now adopted an action plan to improve air quality in the area, containing suggestions on ways to tackle the issue. They range from finding an alternative route for HGVs, to promoting cycling and walking, engaging with schools, businesses and taxi companies, encouraging uptake of electric vehicles, and introducing controlled parking charges.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, said: “The approval of the Air Quality Action Plan is a positive step towards managing the level of pollutants found along the small area of Stevenage Road, east of the Hitchin Hill roundabout.

“I would like to reassure residents that generally air quality in North Hertfordshire is very good.

“As well as addressing the situation in Stevenage Road, the adoption of this action plan is intended to help ensure that air pollution issues do not arise in other areas.”

HGVs are the biggest source of emissions approaching Hitchin Hill roundabout from Stevenage Road, with 39 per cent of emissions attributed to them, even though they make up just 4.5 per cent of the vehicles on the road.

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Thirty-seven per cent of emissions come from cars, 15 per cent from light commercial vehicles, eight per cent from public transport and one per cent from motorcycles.