THE introduction of a permanent 30mph speed limit on Chideock Hill is 'extremely disappointing' according to the parish council - which has challenged authorities on the issue and instead wants urgent action to tackle pollution in the village.

As reported in the News, the 30mph limit along part of the A35 which was introduced as a temporary measure by Highways England in a bid to improve air quality is set to be made permanent.

Chideock Parish Council said last week it had not received direct communication from either Highways England or Dorset Council on the matter before the measure was announced.

It has now released a statement in response - and says it is clear that traffic through the area must be reduced. Chideock Hill was found to have the worst air pollution in the England in a study carried out by Friends of the Earth last year.

The parish council said it was "extremely disappointed that both Highways England and Dorset Council do not appear to grasp the fact that the dominant reason for the high levels of pollution is the level of congestion the village experiences on a daily basis".

It said evidence shows that for air pollution levels to fall below England’s current legal limits, a reduction of at least 69 per cent in traffic is required.

The statement said: "It is not acceptable for either Cllr Ray Bryan (Dorset Council) or Andy Roberts (Highways England) to state that (villagers) will have to wait until sometime in the future for electric vehicles. These comments reflect a poor understanding that some particulate air pollution is derived from tyres and brakes and as such this would continue to apply regardless of the fuel being used. Furthermore, over several years the parish council has raised the fact that, because of the incline on Chideock Hill and Quarr Hill, HGVs rely upon their brakes because of their heavy loads."

The council said a 30mph limit helps locals cross the busy road and some residents have experienced some noise reduction.

But it said: "Highways England said the pilot identified a small reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels following the reduction in speed limit and it is on this basis that the limit will be reduced permanently....but there has been virtually no continual speed enforcement throughout the last 18 months and traffic, due to the pandemic lockdowns, has been reduced significantly and is currently still down as of 10th May 2021. To date the parish council has not seen any evidence for what is described as the small impact from the speed reduction strategy on NO2 emissions; furthermore the parish council has still not received any official notification."

The statement adds: "We want to see the Government take seriously the already known facts about the levels of pollution and calls on West Dorset’s MP Chris Loder to come and visit on a busy Friday/weekend and to experience in full the impact such high levels of congestion and pollution has on the ordinary citizens of this village; the inability for people to walk down the road safely; to cross the road safely; to not breathe air that is high in pollutants of all types.

"Chideock cannot wait for years. We need the Government to direct that something is done NOW!