Breathtaking: Dorset village Chideock ranks worst for air pollution

A town or village with an “East/West” arterial road running through it?

Ring any bells in East Devon?

Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondent 

A village in Dorset has been identified as suffering some of the worst air pollution in England, with a taxi rank in Sheffield coming in second.

Chideock, which is about three miles west of Bridport on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, was found to have the highest levels of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the country. The readings have been blamed on the A35, which runs through the village.

NO2 has been shown to be linked to an array of health problems, including respiratory issues, increased risks of cancer and lower life expectancy. It is produced by fossil fuels.

Chideock recorded an annual average level of 97.7 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air in 2018, the most recent year for which records are available — more than twice the annual limit of 40 micrograms set by the government’s Air Quality Objective.

The station taxi rank in Sheffield recorded the second highest NO2 levels, according to a report which found that more than 1,300 sites across England had been breaching the annual limit.

The data comes from English local authorities’ air quality annual status reports, which are submitted to the government. They were analysed by Friends of the Earth, which said failing to fix air pollution was costing lives.

Calling for increased investment in cycling and walking, it added: “If ministers want to avoid a return to the health-damaging and illegal levels of air pollution we had before lockdown, their enthusiasm for “active travel” needs to be a permanent switch not just a short-term gap plugger.”

The ten worst

1. Chideock Hill, West Dorset (97.7 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air)

2. Station taxi rank, Sheffield (91.7)

3. North Street clocktower, Brighton (90.8)

4. Neville Street tunnel, Leeds (88)

5. Strand, City of Westminster (88)

6. Walbrook Wharf, City of London (87)

7. Hickleton, Doncaster (86)

8. Marylebone Road, City of Westminster (85)

9. Euston Road, London Borough of Camden (82.3)

10. Hickleton, John O’Gaunts, Doncaster (82)

Source: Friends of the Earth