BLUEPRINTS to tackle what has been branded one of the most polluted streets in the country have been revealed by council bosses.

Maldon’s Market Hill was named the sixth worst street in the UK by Friends of the Earth last year because of high nitrogen dioxide levels.

The environmental campaign group claimed people were being forced to breath “dangerously polluted air”.

Maldon District Council disputed the report’s figures, but admitted poor air quality on Market Hill did need to be tackled, and that pollution was above government targets.

The council is now set to discuss an air quality action plan for Market Hill and the High Street today.

If the proposals are approved they will go out to public consultation.

The report says buses should meet required emission standards, taxi services will be capped based on the age of the vehicles and emissions released, and restrictions will be tightened on heavy goods vehicles.

It also states the council will apply for funding to make eco-friendly updates to buses.

Recycling and refuse vehicles could be limited on how they travel through Market Hill.

They will be banned from using the road as a ‘through-route’, but exceptions will be made for collections from properties there.

The plan also sets out possible traffic improvements by making the hill a one-way route and introducing a bus gate.

Council leader Adrian Fluker said: “While air quality has improved significantly since the smogs of the Fifties and Sixties, poor air quality continues to significantly affect people’s health at significant public cost.

“There are real opportunities for us to proactively address the health impacts of air quality.

“We must continue to transform the way we live and work, be more sustainable and reduce our contribution to poor air quality.”

The road was declared an air quality management area in 2018 after predictions showed air quality conditions would not be met.

Monitoring of air quality in Market Hill revealed “high concentrations” of nitrogen dioxide.

Breathing in raised levels of the chemical compound can see an increased likelihood of respiratory problems.

Roadside monitoring of the air between July and December 2017 found the mean concentration of nitrogen dioxide was 55.19 microgrammes (mcg) per cubic metre. It meant the road was likely to exceed the Government-set annual mean measurement of 40mcg per cubic metre.

The action plan will be discussed by the council’s strategy and resources committee today.

A consultation could be held in March if it is approved.