Organisers of Harrogate’s first Clean Air Day are celebrating progress in their campaign against exhaust fumes in a notoriously gridlocked part of town.
After patient lobbying by Starbeck Residents Association over the situation at a heavily-congested railway level crossing in the area, new warning signs for drivers have now been introduced.
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The red and white signs saying “stationary vehicles switch off engines” are exactly what members of Zero Carbon Harrogate have been arguing for.
Erected by North Yorkshire County Council on the Starbeck side of the level crossing, Rebecca Lund of ZCH said: “This will help to get the message across. It will help people start thinking that it’s not acceptable to sit in a queue of traffic and keep your engine running.”
The recent Clean Air Day in Starbeck was supported by not only ZCH, Starbeck Residents Association and Harorgate Borough Council but also Starbeck Junior School, Springwater School, local cafes and shops and Starbeck in Bloom.
The common concern is the air pollution caused by drivers idling their engines while they wait for the trains to pass at Starbeck level crossing.
The county council is currently working with Network Rail to explore ways of improving signalling to try to reduce the length of time the level crossing is closed for trains passing through Starbeck.
Although the official figures by Harrogate Borough Council show air pollution levels in the Starbeck High Street area are not beyond legal limits, residents are still worried about the effect of so many static cars each day at the crossing,
David Evans of Starbeck Residents Association said: “We’re on the walking route to several local schools, so people are walking their children breathing in some very dirty air. I live on the High Street and I can see the sooty dust come through the window.”
Although the county council is hoping to improve the railway signalling system at Starbeck, it is also insistent drivers must also bear some responsibility.
Coun Don Mackenzie said: “We need the cooperation of drivers of vehicles who do not automatically switch off when stationary: switch off the engine whilst the level crossing gates are down.”