A number of areas in Saffron Walden either already break or are close to the legal limit for poisonous Nitrogen Dioxide emissions. This is caused by the bad management of traffic, particularly the peak traffic volumes.
These problems are further exacerbated by the use of traffic lights, which are becoming more outmoded due to their net contribution to pollution; independent studies show that traffic lights increase vehicle emissions by between 26 and 34%.
The problems for Saffron Walden are due to get worse because of the more than 1,000 new houses proposed for the east of town, for which the council have produced no highways or air quality management plans. That means that the legal limits will very likely be breached in a number of other areas including at the top of Borough Lane, by the Fire Station and on Debden Road.
Breaking these legal limits open up the Council (tax payers) to significant fines and puts public health at risk.
The environmental risks, although hidden, are very real risks to public health. Studies attribute 3% of all deaths to vehicle emissions; three times as many as by vehicular accidents. By 2017, estimates predict the junction to have 8,500 vehicle trips a day. EU research shows that those roads with 10,000 vehicles a day are responsible for 15% of asthma cases among under-17s; and a staggering quarter of cardiovascular diseases among the over-65s. It seems reckless that UDC are ignoring this issue.