Air Quality, West Yorkshire

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 2:35 pm on 29th November 1993.

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Mr. William O'Brien:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the dates, times and locations of any surveys carried out in West Yorkshire to monitor the air quality along the routes of the Al and other motorways in West Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury

Four surveys have been carried out since October 1992. Twenty-four hour surveys were carried out on the Al at Aberford and on the M62 at Thorpe in October and November 1992 respectively. There were 10-hour monitoring surveys in August this year on the Al and M62 in Ferrybridge. The levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and lead measured at all locations were well below the designated values defined by the EC or World Health Organisation.

Mr. O'Brien:

Does the Minister accept that the M62, which runs through my constituency, is one of the busiest motorways in the north of England? Although monitoring exercises have been carried out to measure the lead in the air, does he accept that people who live near motorways, particularly those near schools, are worried about the sulphur, nitrogen and other pollutants that are emitted? Should not measurements be taken more frequently so that people can at least be assured that the Government are doing something to ensure that there is no danger to people's health, particularly children's health, along motorways and where motorways are planned?

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, as I am sure is the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse), who, by virtue of his office, cannot ask that question. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are taking careful steps to monitor air quality and that when the draft orders are laid before the House next summer, they will include an environmental statement. That will include air quality monitoring and assessment details.

Photo of Mr Gary Waller Mr Gary Waller , Keighley

Can my hon. Friend confirm that the internal combustion engine tends to emit most pollution, particularly carbon monoxide, when vehicles are either stationary or slow-moving? That being the case, does he agree that, whatever the arguments for or against any scheme bypassing a settlement, it is unlikely that air quality will be one of the arguments underpinning opposition to such a scheme?

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is nothing more polluting than a traffic jam. On the whole, when traffic is moving freely, the dangerous emissions are minimised. That is something we take seriously when we are considering our road programme, whether it is widening a motorway or improving, or indeed bypassing, a particular village or community.