A general view of Princess Way in Seaforth. Image: Google
In four parts of the borough, levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which can cause and exacerbate respiratory problems, exceed or are close to the annual average standard.
The four pollution hotspots are:
- Princess Way, Seaforth
- Millers Bridge, Bootle
- Crosby Road and South Road, Waterloo
- Hawthorne Road and Church Road, Litherland
What’s causing the pollution?
In general the pollution comes from emissions created by heavy traffic - particularly HGVs.
In Princess Way - one of the worst affected areas - planning approval for a block of flats was rejected in 2021 because of concerns around the health impact of poor air quality on residents.
The Sefton Council report noted that the main cause of nitrogen oxide pollutants is due to HGV traffic in the area, which is close to the docks.
In nearby Millers Bridge, the high levels of pollution are again related to HGVs and industrial processes linked to the docks.
Road traffic has also caused problems at Crosby Road and South Road in Waterloo, as well as the junction at Hawthorne Road and Church Road in Litherland.
What’s been done to reduce pollution?
For those areas affected by port traffic, several actions have been put in place to reduce levels, including helping change the port booking system and redesigning improvements to ‘hamburger’ roundabouts, where the main road passes through the centre of the roundabout.
However, the report notes: “Dealing with road traffic related emissions in this area with the potential increase in HGV port traffic is extremely challenging and alternative/innovative measures need to be considered.”
Joint work has also been carried out with the Environment Agency to monitor emissions in Millers Bridge, with a new system introduced to give priority to HGVs, reducing stops at traffic lights – as well as changes to major junctions to improve traffic flow.
As well as changes to traffic flow, intensive road and footpath cleaning has also taken place in areas affected by high pollution.
What happens next?
The report into pollution in Sefton has been produced ahead of a meeting of Sefton Council’s overview and scrutiny committee in January.
The council is also currently working on a plan for a clean air zone in the borough, with a detailed report due to be brought to councillors next year.
However, port traffic is expected to increase in the coming year and that will throw up new challenges in hard hit areas.
Overall air pollution levels in Sefton have dropped with successive lockdowns due to COVID-19 and a reduction in traffic being described as the main reason.
The report notes: “Obviously 2020 was an exceptional year for air quality and it is still unclear whether pollution levels will return to those recorded before COVID or whether some reductions will be longer term with more people working flexibly and/or from home.”