'Pockets' of damaging pollutant nitrogen dioxide found in air around Wakefield city centre

"Pockets" of a damaging air pollutant are still present in parts of Wakefield city centre, councillors have been told.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 7:00 am

Nitrogen dioxide is one of five gases the government is trying to eliminate from all urban areas over the next decade.

However, the substance, which is emitted mainly from car engines, still lingers in the air above Wakefield, the district's climate change scrutiny committee was told on Monday.

An Environment Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, would make it a legal requirement for nitrogen dioxide to be eradicated from the air by 2030.

Nitrogen dioxide is one of five pollutants the government is trying to eradicate by 2030. Levels of the compound have been found above the centre of Wakefield.

The other four pollutants covered by the bill are ammonia, sulphur dioxide, particulate matter and non-methane volatile organic compounds.

Introducing the details of the bill, the council's service director for climate change, Gary Blenkinsop, said: "In the UK we're OK for four of them, but for the fifth, which is nitrogen dioxide, there are town and city centres where that's exceeded (desired levels).

"There's still small pockets in Wakefield city centre where that's still a challenge for us locally, but for other places like London and the big cities it's more challenging."

The council has also offered a further update on its plans to build two solar energy farms in Ossett and South Kirkby.

Wakefield city centre

A report last week indicated that having the £20m parks up and running by a target date of 2023 may not be possible.

However, Kevin Fisher, the council's facilities services manager, said the deadline may still be met, provided landowners and tenants with a stake in the proposed sites are "brought on board" soon.

The two sites earmarked for the farms, which are still yet to be publicly revealed, belong partially to the local authority and are both on greenbelt land, it was revealed.

Mr Fisher added that how the farms would be run is yet to be decided.

He said: "One of the things we need to consider is, does the council want to fully fund and own the site, do we want third party investment or do we want to lease the land to someone and then they'll run the solar farm on our behalf?"

A planning application is expected to be submitted around next Christmas time.

Local Democracy Reporting Service