Sunday, March 16, 2008

Siege must be choking

After a long, long wait, the Longdendale Siege Committee have finally updated their website, and the most noticeable addition is a new page about Nitrogen Dioxide pollution in Hollingworth.

From an academic point of view, the data they provide is useless - in the sense that they do not provide sources for their data. If there are no points of reference for the information they provide, then it cannot be effectively verified or checked.

Now don't get us wrong: we are not saying that there is not pollution in Longdendale or Hollingworth, but we would like to be able to examine the validity and accuracy of the data they present. We feel that this is not unreasonable.

So in the absence of proper references, we can only turn to the information put before the Public Inquiry. The Highways Agency's Air Quality expert, Mr Bean (seriously), presented a lot of information about pollution. The accuracy of his data and the methodology deployed may be looked at in a future post here, but for the time being, we'll accept his figures as accurate.

That being the case, Longdendale Siege choose two particular areas to demonstrate their data - Green Lane & Market Street. In Mr Bean's supporting data, these sites are given the designation R8 & R30 respectively.

Regarding Green Lane, where Siege have provided a figure of 21 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter) in the year 2000, whilst the Highways Agency say it is 31.4 μg/m3 in 2005 - a rise (page 51). But their own study goes on to show a drop to 24 μg/m3 by 2015 without the bypass, owing to anticipated improvements in Car Engines etc. Add the Bypass, and it only achieves a further drop of 1.2 μg/m3 by 2015 to 22.8 μg/m3.

Regarding Market Street, Siege provide a figure of 46 μg/m3 in 2000 and 85 μg/m3 in 2007. But the Highways Agencies info is much lower - 23.1 μg/m3 in 2005, with a drop to 18.8 μg/m3 with or without the bypass by 2015 (page 51). In this case, the building of the bypass makes no difference by 2015 to literally 'doing nothing'.

Two quotes from the article are highly significant (emphasis added):

"There would be a small increase in NO2 concentrations along all road links due to an increase in road traffic with the operation of the Scheme" (i.e. the bypass - page 42, paragraph

"The regional assessment indicates that the Scheme would result in an increase in all emissions compared to without the Scheme for both the Main and Air Quality Extended Study Areas" (page 47, paragraph 6.1.12)

So the Highways Agency's own expert says that the Bypass will entail an increase all forms of pollution in the area they have studied.

Returning to the Siege website, the key here is Siege's chosen year of 2007. This suggests they have access to data that not even the PI has before it. Either that, or it is a fabrication. Our contacts have emailed them to ask for more information., but have not had replies.

All of this leads us to two conclusions. Firstly, why are they publishing this data on their website and not at the PI? Is it because it will not stand up to scrutiny, or is there some other reason? Their submission to the PI does not mention pollution, or quote any data, although presumably it was as much of a problem then as it is now.

Secondly, if we accept that emissions from slow-moving vehicles causes pollution along the A628 and A57, then why not implement a HGV ban now? It's no use demanding a bypass that is at least 4-5 years away if you want to lessen pollution now - if it's bad enough now, advocate a trial HGV ban now.

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