CONERNS have been raised by Monmouthshire County Council’s environmental health team about the impact of future developments on air pollution levels.

Officers met with members of the strong communities select committee to outline their work in seeking improvements to air quality in towns across the county

Paul White, the council’s pollution control specialist, told councillors that Chepstow and Abergavenny had exceeded air pollutant levels last year.

“We are concerned about Chepstow with additional developments and Merthyr Road in Abergavenny because of a lot of development at Llanfoist,” he said on Thursday.

Mr White said the main source of air pollution in Monmouthshire is traffic-related emissions, namely nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter.

The authority currently has 41 monitoring devices stationed across Chepstow, Abergavenny, Monmouth and Usk to measure pollutant levels.

Air quality management systems (AQMS) are also positioned at Hardwick Hill in Chepstow and Bridge Street in Usk.

While Usk has not exceeded NO2 levels since 2015, Chepstow continues to exceed limits set by the council – reaching peaks in 2011 and 2012.

A location in Abergavenny had borderline exceeded the limit in 2011 and eventually went over in 2017.

While environmental health has no dedicated AQMS in Monmouth, Mr White said the busy A40 road continues to be surveyed.

But Labour councillor Tony Easson said on Thursday that more practical solutions had to be explored aside from monitoring.

Cllr Easson mentioned the historic Abergavenny western bypass proposals, while lamenting the existing A449 interchange taking traffic through Usk rather than bypassing the town.

“With Chepstow, there are six agencies still fighting around what to do about a bypass there,” he said.

“Two years ago, Monmouthshire met in Gloucester with their city and county council, Forest of Dean council, South Wales Trunk Road Agent, Highways England and we’re still talking about a Chepstow bypass.

“All you’re doing is firefighting the problems of the past. You can put in as many monitors as you like, we won’t solve the problem.”

Mr White, in agreement with Cllr Easson, said: “It seems like the government has realised this and is now coming up with a joint approach to make quality as important as development.”

Independent councillor Val Smith said congestion issues in Usk could be resolved by preventing cars from parking on the road leading into the village.

“I’ve actually counted 20 vehicles patiently waiting, all for the sake of a few double yellow lines and ensuring that the route is kept clear so that traffic can exit the town,” said Cllr Smith.

“It seems so simple.”

The meeting also explored potential impacts of the abolished Severn Crossings tolls, and the proposed M4 relief road, on Chepstow and further afield.

Huw Owen, principal environmental health officer, added: “The A48 [in Chepstow] is a Welsh Government trunk road and the positive and negative implications of the tools have been discussed at length.

"The Welsh Government is agreeing to do a transport study this year before the tolls go, and next year to try and report what has been the impact.”