I welcome the decision of the Highways Agency to shelve their plans to allow traffic to use the hard shoulder of the M60 from Barton and Worsley to Swinton. I have been campaigning against these plans to widen the motorway since 2009. The plans for “lane gain” or hard-shoulder running would have brought a lane of traffic close to a thousand homes. The Highways Agency concluded that the change could result in an increase in traffic using the motorway, which would have affected air quality.
We already have some of the most congested roads in the country. Not only the M60, M602 and M62 motorways but also our local trunk roads, the A6, the East Lancs Road and the A57 Liverpool Road from Eccles to Irlam are all heavily congested.
As a result, our air quality is among the poorest in the country. The rate of deaths caused by air pollution in Salford is higher than the national average and much higher than some parts of the country which have cleaner air. It has been known for years that pollutants in the air we breathe cause respiratory problems and heart disease. More recently there have been stark warnings that air pollution in our cities can also cause cancer.
Yet we are in the middle of a blizzard of planning applications for developments which would make air pollution worse. I was pleased that councillors on Salford council’s planning panel turned down a planning application for 600 houses near to Junction 13 of the M60 at Worsley. Such a development would have brought an extra thousand vehicles onto local roads and it would have also meant the loss of a valuable area of green open land.
We have to start to take this issue of pollution and air quality much more seriously. Many parts of Salford are densely populated. We must hang on to all our open spaces, which act as vital green lungs for Salford. I am pleased that this campaign has been successful and I will continue to campaign against developments that could make air pollution worse than it is.