According to Waverley Borough Council data, levels of ‘PM10’ particulate matter reached as high as 189.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) at The Woolmead at 9am on April 24 – almost four times the legal limit.
It coincides with Berkeley Homes’ demolition of The Woolmead shopping precinct and Crest Nicholson’s demolition of the adjacent Redgrave Theatre.
The European Commission allows for 35 exceedences of its 50 µg/3 guideline as a 24-hour mean per year. Council figures reveal levels of PM10 at The Woolmead have only exceeded this daily average three times this year.
However, alarming hourly spikes in PM10 have been recorded over the past month – with nine hourly exceedances recorded on April 7 and 23, and a dozen recorded on April 16, 17 and 18.
As the weather gets drier and construction of the Brightwells scheme ramps up, concentrations will likely increase – putting Waverley in danger of breaching the EU legal limit.
Responding, Stewart Harris, construction director at Berkeley Homes (Southern) East, said the Woolmead developer “has taken all reasonable measures to control disruption and pollution”.
He added: “Throughout the works, we have employed specialist demolition consultants to carefully monitor and regulate the works including minimising dust pollution.
“We are unaware of any significant increases to dust pollution during the demolition. We haven’t received any notable complaints from the local community about the levels of dust and will continue to monitor and mitigate the situation.”
A Crest spokesman added the developer has measures in place at Brightwells to eliminate “as much dust as possible”, including a wheel wash, road sweeper and mobile water suppression.