THE A127 speed limit has been introduced to cut emission in Basildon, but will the 50mph limit solve ‘disgraceful’ air pollution figures?

Data revealed that one in 18 people aged over 30 are dying because of air pollution in Essex.

Figures from Public Health England state that the deaths of five and a half percent of people aged over 30 across Essex are caused by air pollution.

There is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma.

The figures are exactly the same for Southend.

Friends of the Earth, an environmental campaign group, have called the figures an “absolute disgrace.”

Jenny Bates, a campaigner for the charity, said: “These levels of the most health-damaging air pollution are an absolute disgrace.

“Every year, UK air pollution causes nearly 36,000 early deaths and billions of pounds in costs to the economy. The Government must get a grip on this health crisis.”

Kevin Buck, shadow councillor for transport at Southend Council, demanded that the council do more to tackle the issue. He said: “Southend is a thriving, modern, metropolis. We can set the standards.”

“There’s been discussion about a Southend bypass for 40 years.

“There has been no progress.

“This would clear most of the through traffic in Southend.

“It takes 20 minutes to get to Rayleigh at the moment. That would be halved if we had the bypass.

“It’s time someone took leadership of this.”

A spokesman from Essex County Council reiterated they ‘want to reduce pollution’.

They said: “The Essex level of deaths due to air pollution has not changed over the last ten years and is equal to the regional average.

“The impact of air pollution on health is actually very hard to measure. The figure is not that 5.5% of deaths are due to air pollution but that air pollution makes a total contribution of 5.5% to the years of life lost across the population.

“Nonetheless, air pollution is recognised by the council as having a negative impact on health and we would wish to reduce levels of pollution to which our population are exposed.”

Carole Mulroney, councillor for environment at Southend Council, explained that Southend is prone to traffic congestion.

She added: “While air quality in Southend is generally good, as with many busy towns and cities, there are problems emerging around some traffic pinch-points and that is one of the reasons why the council has been undertaking junction improvements over a number of years.

“There is work to do and we take this issue seriously. That is why the council has declared an Air Quality Management Area in The Bell area, employed an air quality specialist, and produced an Air Quality Action Plan.

“We also continue to promote more sustainable forms of travel, such as walking, cycling, buses and trains, both with our own staff, local residents and businesses.

“We all have a role to play in air quality, specifically when it comes to how we choose to travel.

“How we get to work, how we get the children to school, how we travel to key services such as hospitals and doctors all contribute to the borough’s air quality, so we will need the close collaboration and support of businesses, public service providers as well as residents.”