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M4 speed cut could help reduce air pollution in Port Talbot

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

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THE Welsh Government is investigating whether cutting speed on the M4 could help drive down the town's air pollution levels.

Air quality is actually better now than it has been for years. But Neath Port Talbot Council, the Welsh Government and Environment Agency are still working together to try to bring about further improvements.

A raft of potential measures are being discussed, including whether controversial proposals to shut motorway slip roads and introduce average speed cameras on the M4 will cut pollution.

An Air Quality Management Area was established in the Taibach and Margam area in 2000 because of high levels of PM10 (fine particle) pollution.

Neath Port Talbot then introduced its Airwise action plan, while in 2008 the Welsh Government issued what was known as a Short Term Competent Authority Action Plan, or Stap.

All 16 of the actions contained in that plan required action by Welsh Ministers. Now a revised Stap has gone out for consultation setting out actions to be carried out this time by the Welsh Government, the council and Environment Agency.

Head of planning Geoff White said: "Since 2006 the direction of travel is that the air quality has been improving. Last year we had 11 occasions when the limit was exceeded, which is the best we have had for some considerable years. It's still 11 too many but it is moving in the right direction."

Measures the council would be responsible for include continuing to work with Costain to ensure the construction of Harbour Way does not hit air quality. The Welsh Government has also suggested it should introduce dust suppression measures on all roads the council has responsibility for, though Mr White is not in favour of this.

Another possible measure is a voluntary agreement with local industry to reduce activity on site when PM10 levels are high.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government will consider restricting traffic or reducing speed limits on the M4 and main roads with the aim of ensuring a smooth flow of traffic.

It has been looking at the closure or partial closure of junctions 40 and 41 at Taibach and Pentyla and the introduction of an average speed camera.

Last year it delayed the start of consultation on this. But the Stap measure would mean it looking at the proposals from a pollution control perspective and not just from the safety angle.

Council climate change manager Geoff Marquis said: "The question was asked at some stage whether those proposals would improve air quality so the Welsh Government is looking at that."

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  • Jiffy  |  January 19 2013, 10:30AM

    There are plans to dig another Brynglas tunnel in Newport, because the 2 lanes are restricting the amount of traffic that can use the M4. Business and politicians believe it's important to companies in Wales that the M4 corridor is kept running quickly at all costs. Obviously, this thinking stops at Margam and NPT etc, are happy to strangle businesses in West Wales.

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  • watchdog12360  |  January 18 2013, 11:18PM

    They tried a speed camera on that stretch in the past. THEY TOOK IT AWAY because it caused lots of accidents - brought traffic to a standstill for miles - and pollution levels went through the roof. Well Well! The steel frames disguised as electronic sign boards have already been sited over the same stretch of M4 motorway - take a look for yourselves. Motorists are already suspicious? Take a drive from Margam to Llandarcy between 3.30 - 6.00pm on Mon-Friday. Good Luck! MONEY! MONEY! MONEY! - that's all they want - don't listen to their pollution concerns they all have one COMMON PURPOSE - TO ********* OVER! NPT Watchdog

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  • williamwaun  |  January 18 2013, 10:31AM

    The steel works is the biggest polluter. The dust in the air ruins the paintwork on cars, god help what it does to peoples lungs.

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  • gunner10  |  January 18 2013, 10:15AM

    The Motorway is on the Leeward side of Taibach/Margam. The Steelworks is on the Windward side. You do not have to be brilliant to work out where the polution is comming from.

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  • nice_nails  |  January 18 2013, 9:17AM

    I only average approx 30mph to and from work.

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