THREE areas in the city have dangerous levels of pollution according to latest figures with a further nine very close to breaching government air quality targets.

The Butts, The Tything and Rainbow Hill all recorded high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air throughout last year and in many cases had 50 per cent and even 75 per cent more than is deemed safe.

Average readings must be below 40 to meet government air quality targets, while the World Health Organisation guidelines set this as a safe limit to protect public health.

The highest reading in The Butts last year was a whopping 70 in November and only came close to falling below 40 once.

Predictably the worst areas for air pollution in the city centre are some of the busiest and most congested roads such as The Tything, Foregate Street, Lowesmoor, Rainbow Hill, Astwood Road, London Road and St John’s Bull Ring.

The ten highest average nitrogen dioxide readings in Worcester last year (micrograms per cubic metre):

  1. The Butts 42.11
  2. The Tything 41.75
  3. Astwood Rd/Rainbow Hill 40.01
  4. Upper Tything 39.89
  5. Bridge Street 38.62
  6. Shaw St/Sansome St/Foregate St 38.39
  7. Foregate St/Shaw St 37.26
  8. All Saints House, Morteton Place 36.82
  9. George St 36.32
  10. St John's/Henwick Road 35.98

In the worst five hit areas in the city, pollution levels were never below government air quality targets and in most cases was 50 per cent higher than it should be.

The worst level in the city was a 70 reading in The Tything in November last year – 75 per cent higher than what is deemed safe.

The Butts had readings of 66.3 in January and 59.5 in March and never went below 50 last year.

The Tything had readings of 61.1 in January and 70 in November and never went below 43 all year.

Whilst having the worst levels last year, the average level did fall in The Butts from 52.43 in 2018 to 42.11 last year. Levels also dropped in the The Tything from 47.21 in 2018 to 41.75 last year.

Cllr Richard Udall, chairman of Worcester City Council’s licensing and environmental health committee, said the council was “acutely aware” of the problem and needed to take drastic action.

“There are a number of places where it is exceptionally high and at a level that is potentially dangerous.

“We are acutely aware that Worcester, due to its geography and because of the road systems we have, is particularly susceptible to air pollution problems and we have got to take some drastic action to actually try and improve the situation.

“We need to take some potentially politically risky manoeuvres and hopefully we can get all-party support to make some permanent changes.”