Health fears over Harrogate exhaust fumes

Centre of controversy - Trevor Dale, a spokesperson of Harrogate Line Supporters Group at Starbeck level crossing.
Centre of controversy - Trevor Dale, a spokesperson of Harrogate Line Supporters Group at Starbeck level crossing.

A Harrogate residents group is calling for steps to reduce the risk of air pollution at the town’s worst level crossing.

After local green group Zero Carbon Harrogate launched an ‘anti-idling’ campaign at Starbeck’s heavily congested main rail crossing, their concerns have been echoed by Starbeck Residents Association.

But Harrogate Borough Council say the official readings taken at the crossing are not high or worrying.

Chair Geoff Foxall said delays were so long and so frequent at Starbeck High Street and along Knaresborough Road as a result of the barriers that more should be done to encourage drivers to cut their exhaust fumes.

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He said: “Car users need to be reminded to switch off their engines while the barriers are closed at the crossing.

“But Starbeck High Street has no sign to remind motorists to turn off their engines and this is the area most densely packed with residents.

“Traffic queues often extend much further up Knaresborough Road than Swarcliffe Road. The further up the signage extends, the better.”

Mr Foxall said the residents group had written to Harrogate Borough Council in an effort to get the signage improved.

He said: “From Forest Lane Head traffic lights to Starbeck crossing there are 14 lampposts available for use as well as 3 telephone wire poles, one CCT camera post and three pedestrian crossing posts.

“At present there are only three notices attached to street lampposts which say ‘Stationary vehicles switch off engine’.

“Between the crossing and Swarcliffe Road there are four more lampposts which could be used for notices.

“In addition, they could consider using a telephone wire pole, a road humps sign and the end of the wall approaching the level crossing.”

The issue was sparked by recent stories in the Harrogate Advertiser inspired by the lone campaign of Trevor Dale, a spokesperson of Harrogate Line Supporters Group, who has spent years fighting to reduce the amount of time the Starbeck barrier is down.

But a Harrogate Borough Council spokesman said, while always keen to improve air quality where necessary, the figures for air pollution in Starbeck were not high.

The spokesperson said: “We monitor the air quality in Starbeck and can reassure residents that we have not identified any issues with nitrogen dioxide levels.

“Results from tests in 2017 and 2018 were both below 25µg/m3 (national annual limit is 40µg/m3).

“We will consider the concerns of the residents association as part of our on-going work on the Air Quality Action Plan, available on our website.”

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