Town’s air ‘as bad as London’s’

Vehicle fumes contribute towards deadly air pollution.
Vehicle fumes contribute towards deadly air pollution.

Council chiefs have hit back after a global health body said residents in Chesterfield were at risk from dangerously high levels of air pollution.

The area was named and shamed alongside eight other UK towns and cities – including London, Birmingham and Sheffield – in a danger list compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, Chesterfield Borough Council said WHO’s findings were based on data from 2011 and insisted its most recent analysis showed air quality in the town had improved. WHO’s study comes after Public Health England warned dirty air could be killing 400 people every year in Derbyshire.

Air pollution can cause heart disease, respiratory illnesses and cancers.

The report by WHO looked at the levels of a type of air pollution caused by dangerous particles known as PM10.

In 2011 Chesterfield was found to have PM10 values of 22 microgrammes per cubic metre – breaching WHO’s target of 20 microgrammes per cubic metre.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “Air pollution of this kind is caused by a number of factors but by far the biggest is car usage.”

The spokesman added that the council’s readings for 2013 were below WHO levels and more than half the UK legal limit.

As highways authority, Derbyshire County Council runs campaigns to encourage residents to walk, cycle or use public transport instead of driving their car. A spokesman for the county council said it had also invested in a major cycle network in Chesterfield to encourage more people to ride around the town.