Health fears over air pollution for people living near M6

More action is being called for to tackle poor air quality damaging the health of people living next to the motorway.

There are excess levels of nitrogen dioxide in areas near the M6
There are excess levels of nitrogen dioxide in areas near the M6

Despite recent drops in the level of nitrogen dioxide there are still excess levels next to the M6 in Walsall, the borough council's health and wellbeing board heard.

Particular hotspots are near Junction 10 and the Black Country Route.

The Walsall Health Protection Strategy, presented to the board, also revealed Walsall has the second highest level of small particles polluting the air in the West Midlands, behind Sandwell.

Councillor Ian Robertson said the pollutants – which come predominantly from transport – were causing a health hazard and added the issue needed to be looked at by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

He said: “The motorway goes through very heavily populated areas. You can plot there is an awful lot of pollution where (it) runs.

“It affects Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. It’s creating quite a health hazard to a whole range of the population – increased asthma rates are one thing.”

A map showing high level of nitrogen dioxide levels along the M6 motorway in Walsall. Photo: Walsall Council

Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby, of Walsall Police, said adopting speed restrictions to cut pollution, similar to what has been successfully implemented near The Hawthorns in West Bromwich could be considered.

Walsall’s director of public health Stephen Gunther said: “We’ve got (the work at) Junction 10, which is one of the key actions in terms of traffic flow, being put into practice through Highways England.

“The local highways and transport team continue to work with Highways England, particularly on flow and throughput in terms of motorways and continues to do so.”

Councillor Stephen Craddock, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “I think the control of air quality is a huge problem particular along the corridor.

“The problem is not outside of our control but the car manufacturers and the new green rules and regulations about emissions are going to make a bigger difference than anything we can do I think.

“The move towards electric cars will hopefully make that a thing of the past.”

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