Toxic threat at Bearsden Cross

Bearsden'24th June 2014'Pic: Roberto Cavieres
Bearsden'24th June 2014'Pic: Roberto Cavieres

A scientist living in Bearsden has published a report on the threat of air pollution at Bearsden Cross.

Professor Michael Hitchman, emeritus professor of Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, has been investigating the issue, in light of interest shown by developers in building on greenbelt land in the vicinity.

Professor Hitchman’s report opens by quoting a 2018 UNICEF UK report, A Breath of Toxic Air, which states: “Air pollution is an invisible but dangerous threat to children’s health. Toxic emissions can damage children’s growth and leave them with lasting health problems.

“This not only violates a child’s right to health, but also their future. It could impact their right to education, their right to play and, ultimately, their right to life.”

Air Quality in Scotland has been collecting air pollutant data at Bearsden Cross for some time, particularly nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which are known to have various health effects including respitary disease and heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis.

Professor Hitchman says this data shows that nitrogen dioxide in the area is well above the safe limit and some particulate matter is dangerously close to the threshold. “In reality there is no safe level of that PM for humans to breathe in,” he said.

In 2011 the council declared the area an Air Quality Management Area, and mapped an area of concern from just beyond Ledi Drive down to Canniesburn Toll.

The council is currently working on its local development plan, which defines potential land usage and priorities for future planning applications.

Developers have shown interest in greenbelt north 
of Bearsden and over to Milngavie.

Professor Hitchman said: “Traffic from any new developments there would flow southwards by Milngavie Road in the east, and to the west much of it would be funneled along the A809 Drymen Road through the Cross.

“It is very obvious that development on the Craighdu Wedge would dramatically exacerbate the problem of air pollution.

“And, most significantly, it would also heavily impact on the primary and secondary schools in the immediate area around the Wedge, and at the Cross.

“If the council allows any development on the Greenbelt land, it would be going completely against its own air quality strategy.  

“It would also be an act of utter folly and would show a complete lack of consideration and responsibility for not only the children of Bearsden, but for all of us living here.”

Professor Hitchman is calling on the council to halt all furthre residential development in the area, and maintain all greenbelt land.

He wants anyone who agrees with him to contact EDC chief executive Gerry Cornes.

Thomas Glen, one of the council’s depute chief executives, said “The air quality around Bearsden Cross has been continuously monitored since 2006 and an area of Bearsden was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2011 due to exceedances of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) annual mean.

“In line with Scottish Government guidance, a Draft Air Quality Action Plan was published and consulted upon, proposing 29 measures aimed at helping to reduce pollutant levels around Bearsden Cross.

“Since declaration, the annual mean NO2 and PM10 levels have declined considerably and 2017 saw a further reduction in pollutant levels. The data for 2018 has not yet been ratified but will be published once it is available.

“Improving air quality is a Council priority and we will continue to work towards improvements where possible.

“Local people can play their part too by ensuring they reduce the number of unnecessary journeys by car, walk/cycle more and switch off their engines whilst stationary.

“If we all work together on this, we can continue to help improve air quality not just across Bearsden but across all of East Dunbartonshire.”

Full copies of Professor Hitchman’s report can be requested by  emailing mlhbearsden@hotmail.com.