The A127 at Rayleigh Weir has been named and shamed as the most polluted stretch of road in East Anglia.

Friends of the Earth claims the latest data from Government air quality scientists shows the section of the Southend Arterial Road has levels of nitrogen dioxide above safe standards.

Residents say they suffer the daily nightmare of fumes and noise backed the shock findings - claiming families' health was suffering because of the pollution.

They confirmed the Friends of the Earth report that the pollution threatens the health of thousands of people living in the area, triggering amongst other problems asthma attacks.

The environmental pressure group claims the official figures show that despite improvements made by car manufacturers to cut down exhaust emissions, the level of air pollution on the stretch of road will still be above safe limits in 2005.

The road is top of a list of highways throughout East Anglia because of the high volume of traffic and the low average speed during rush hour - more cars travelling slower produce higher pollution.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth yesterday called for the Government to reduce the number of cars on the road.

If the emissions from cars were cut by 30 per cent over the next six years the A127 at Rayleigh Weir would meet the standards for the levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Mr Bosworth said: "Between now and 2005 pollution levels will fall by around 50 per cent as a result of current policies and cleaner cars, but this is not nearly enough in some areas like the A127.

"If we want to sort out the problem we need to get less traffic on the road."

Friends of the Earth wants the Government to implement measures outlined in last year's integrated transport White Paper.

These include allowing councils to charge motorists to drive into towns, taxing employers for staff car parking spaces, and providing a legal framework for partnerships between councils and operators to improve bus services.

The group hopes a combination of making driving more costly and improving public transport will get cars off the road.

Mr Bosworth said: "We are not asking people to give up their cars altogether, just to only use them when absolutely necessary.

"Even if people cycle to work or use public transport once a week it would help."

A spokesman for Essex County Council, the highway authority for the A127, today said it would look into the pollution claims made by Friends of the Earth.

Pollution blackspot - Friends of the Earth say the Rayleigh Weir exceeds safety levels


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