Health fears for youngsters as Denny Eastern Access Road plans progress

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The close proximity of the new Denny Eastern Access Road (DEAR) to Denny High School has led to health concerns over vehicle emissions damaging youngsters’ lungs.

Permission for the DEAR was granted back in 2015 – after the original plans were submitted in 2012 – following a full consultation with the community and an air quality assessment being carried out.

Now there are fears the plans – as they stand at the moment – could jeopardise the future health of current pupils at Denny High School, in Herbertshire Park.

Concerned resident Gordon Jack said: “I am alarmed the DEAR is planned to run through the 50 meter gap between Denny Cemetery and Denny High School playing fields. I’m astonished preparations have already started with no apparent investigation or study into the potential adverse health implications on schoolchildren exercising while using the school’s playing fields.

“Hardly a week passes without the subject of vehicle emissions making the national news, stating very clearly that inhaling vehicle exhaust fumes is a danger to good health. The evidence of harm to health is well documented with a plethora of illnesses being blamed on the inhalation of vehicle emissions.

“Here in Denny we are taking vehicles right up to the perimeter of our school playing fields. It is ridiculous. The decision by Falkirk Council to route DEAR within a few metres of the school playing fields needs to be overturned.”

Falkirk Council confirmed an air quality assessment had been carried out to ascertain the impact of the DEAR on local air quality.

A spokesperson said: “The assessment included locations on the existing Broad Street/Glasgow Road routes and the route of the proposed DEAR, including Denny High School. It concluded – on completion of the proposed housing development and DEAR – the predicted levels for air pollutants will be well below local air quality assessment criteria levels.

“The Council currently monitors air quality in two locations in Denny, and the data show levels are currently below the local air quality assessment criteria. We will continue to monitor the information we receive and will look at potentially installing new monitoring sites when the road opens.

“More generally, vehicle emissions are greater when vehicles are stationary or moving slowly in built-up areas, compared to traffic under free-flow conditions.”

Responding directly to Mr Jack’s concerns, Councillor Paul Garner, council environment spokesman, said: “After looking into the issue you raised, my understanding from talking to our roads officers is there is very little, if any, chance of air quality deteriorating.

“In fact, the DEAR will improve air quality along some of the routes our kids use to walk to and from school by addressing the undoubted historic issue we have at Denny Cross of idling traffic due to over capacity at the junction.

“Road vehicle generated emissions are greater, and can accumulate, when a vehicle is stationary and idling with engine on, in contrast to vehicles moving at speed, which would disperse and dilute these tailpipe emissions generated.

“Improved engine technologies, cleaner/alternative fuels and hybrid/ULEV vehicle uptake have all assisted in reducing emission levels.”