Llandeilo’s pollution crisis set to worsenPosted: July 31, 2011
Take a polluted high street, add hundreds more cars every day, then enough coaches to carry over 300 school pupils through it and back again, daily.
Is Carmarthenshire County Council playing a blinder here, deliberately racking up pollution levels so high that the Welsh Assembly Government will feel cornered enough to hand out tens of millions of pounds it does not have, to build a bypass for Llandeilo?
Oh, I nearly forgot, the county council’s local development plan is proposing to allocate land for over 250 new homes, at the eastern end of the polluted high street, which for most of its length is called Rhosmaen Street.
The whole stretch of road from the A40 roundabout east of Llandeilo, to the Ffairfach roundabout on the south-western side of town, has been designated an Air Quality Management Area because pollution readings routinely exceed levels that the European Commission deems to be ‘safe’. This narrow, busy stretch of the A483 has regulation-busting levels of nitrogen dioxide, emitted mainly by the traffic rolling through.
Carmarthenshire County Council has to respond with a Local Air Quality Action Plan, setting out how pollution levels will be cut. The principal way to do this is by reducing the amount of traffic passing along Rhosmaen Street.
Yet Sainsbury’s has applied for permission to build a superstore off the A40 roundabout, on the eastern edge of Llandeilo. The proposed 293 parking spaces indicate the scale of car traffic that Sainsbury’s expects to attract to the store. Customers from the far side of Llandeilo would drive down Rhosmaen Street, worsening the already serious pollution.
Coaches carrying secondary-school pupils from the Llangadog and Llandovery areas would be rumbling through the street to the planned new school on the far side of Ffairfach, which the council intends to have open in 2015, to replace the existing comprehensive schools in Llandeilo and Llandovery (leaving Llandovery without a state secondary school, and its pupils with daily round trips of up to 40 miles, even further for the remotest students).
All these plans will be bound to worsen the noxious emissions suffered by people living along or near Rhosmaen Street, and by pedestrians on the narrow pavements – including the children walking to and from the two primary schools on the street. Rhosmaen Street is already a pollution blackspot. Traffic through it should be cut, not increased.
If, in the next couple of years, we see plans for a Llandeilo bypass being rushed through at breakneck speed, we will have a good idea why.
For the report on pollution in Rhosmaen Street, see the agenda for the Executive Board of Carmarthenshire County Council, July 25th 2011, item 5.