COLCHESTER is amongst the 100 most polluted areas in the UK, shocking new figures have revealed.

Official data from the Government shows the average numbers of fine particles in the air was above World Health Organisation guidelines.

The average concentration of PM2.5 pollution particles in Colchester was 10.1 micrograms per cubic metre in 2019, the newest data which is available.

This is below the official UK limit of 25, but above the WHO guideline limit of ten.

Colchester had the 97th highest average PM2.5 ranking out of 383 local authorities in the UK.

Although 2019’s data for Colchester was still above the WHO recommended limit, it has fallen from 10.3 micrograms per cubic metre in 2018.

Emissions of PM2.5 come from several sources including industry, farming, transport and domestic burning.

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The British Heart Foundation, which is campaigning for stricter limits on PM2.5 as part of the Government’s Environment Bill, says the country faces “a public health emergency” on air pollution.

Director of policy John Maingay said: “Our toxic air is a public health emergency, and now is the time to take robust action to support everyone’s health as we look to recover from the pandemic.

“Stricter, health-based air quality guidelines are urgently needed to protect the health of the nation and clean up toxic air for good.”

Colchester Council’s environment boss Martin Goss said it was committed to tackling air pollution.

Martin Goss


He said: “While studies continue to show there is no single solution to improving air quality, we recognise pollution levels in some areas do remain stubbornly high and that we do need to continue to ensure air quality improvements are considered and introduced at every opportunity.

“Our Air Quality Action Plan already outlines the measures we will take to reduce concentrations of pollutants to within legal limits, thereby positively impacting on the health and quality of life of Colchester’s residents and visitors.

“These include actions to reduce levels of PM2.5 emissions caused by domestic heating, particularly wood burning, the CARless pollution campaign and the continued partnership working with bus, taxi and goods-vehicle operators to reduce emissions from their fleets.”

“Anticipated amendments to the Clean Air Act and the Environment Act will also help us take even more effective steps in the future to reduce PM2.5 emissions and improve air quality across the borough.”

The council has been encouraging introducing licensing restrictions and running its no idling campaign, including installing new signs, to try and tackle the town’s air pollution problem.