After two decades of feeling ignored, the parish council of the village deemed to have the worst air pollution in England continue to press for a bypass.

Friends of the Earth claim Chideock Hill on the A35 is ranked number one for breaching air pollution limits after a data audit revealed 1,360 sites across England have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels. The leading cause of NO2 pollution is emissions from road traffic.

The level has increased in Chideock after Main Street was ranked ninth in the south west last year with 58.9ug/m3 by Friends of the Earth. This has now gone up to 97.7ug/m3 when the target is 40ug/m3.

Parish councillors say this is ‘no surprise’ and pollution has been known as an issue in the village since Chideock was declared an Air Quality Management Area in May 2007.

A spokesman said: “In some ways Chideock Parish Council feels that all of the public bodies concerned are ignoring the very real impact of pollution on this village, in order that they do not have to consider that action needs to be taken now to provide an alternative strategic route for HGVs / delivery vehicles and all non-local traffic. In addition, any possibility of providing additional safe crossing points for pedestrians appear to be years away. “

They explained that national environmental air quality legislation currently only applies to cities and towns with Chideock not having a national focus or funding for alternatives to be delivered through Highways England and Dorset Council.

The spokesman added: “Chideock Parish Council needs our Dorset Ward Councillor, Dorset Council, our MP Chris Loder and the Ministers responsible for DEFRA and the Department of Transport to stop procrastinating and to start doing. Take this matter seriously, we need your help.

“Decisions need to be made now - the village of Chideock is as important environmentally as any town or city and the A35 as a strategic route through this village is not fit for purpose.

“Chideock needs an alternative route.”

Over the last two years, Highways England implemented two initiatives, one to consider the impact on the village through a safety and severance report and the second a speed limit reduction trial.

Andy Roberts, Highways England Route Manager for the A35, said: “We have a responsibility to tackle air quality around our network and we’re working in partnership with Dorset Council to improve air quality in Chideock.

"The main area of focus is towards the western end of the village and by way of a trial to improve the air quality we have reduced the speed limit from 40mph down to 30mph and are currently monitoring to see if this has been effective.

"This was introduced in September 2019 and will run until January 2021 for all the data to be collected.”

Friends of the Earth is campaigning to remove polluting vehicles from the road and clean up transport – to fight the climate crisis and to protect public health.

England locations ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3). The Annual Air Quality Objective is set at 40ug/m3.

1. Chideock Hill, West Dorset 97.7

2. Station Taxi Rank, Sheffield 91.7

3. North Street Clock Tower, Brighton 90.8

4. Neville Street Tunnel, Leeds 88

5. Strand, City of Westminster 88

6. Walbrook Wharf, City of London 87

7. Hickleton opp Fir Tree Close, Doncaster 86

8. Marylebone Road, City of Westminster 85

9. Euston Road, London Borough of Camden 82.3

10. Hickleton, John O’Gaunts, Doncaster 82

Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Failing to fix air pollution cots lives. It also shows a failure to address the climate crisis because the sources and solutions are intrinsically linked. If ministers want to avoid a return to the health-damaging and illegal levels of air pollution we had before lockdown, their enthusiasm for ‘active travel’ needs to be a permanent switch and not just a short-term gap plugger.

“The government must also end its damaging fixation on building more roads. You can’t justify this by planning to phase out polluting petrol and diesel vehicles and replace them with electric ones. We need to go much further than just getting out o one type of car and into another. Investment in better cycling and walking should be part of a fair and green post-coronavirus economic recovery plan aimed at creating a cleaner, fairer future.”