CONTROVERSIAL speed cameras put in place to reduce dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide are here to stay, a Minister has confirmed.

Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport, said motorists should recognise that it is ‘far more important’ to save lives than to ‘save less than a minute’ going 70mph than 50mph.

The Assembly Member visited pupils at St Ethelwolds School in Shotton to speak with pupils about the air quality issues on the nearby A494 and the actions Welsh Government has implemented, which includes the speed limit reduction to 50mph.

The Leader:

Ken Skates AM visits St Ethelwolds in Shotton. Images above and below by Aaliyah Rugg

He said he was speaking with young learners about the damage that emissions can have on not just the environment but on human health as well, in particular nitrogen dioxide omitted by cars, lorries and vans.

“What’s incredible is the level and degree of knowledge and understanding that young people have about the damage that emissions can have on a human body and on the natural environment.

“I hope that any motorist will recognise it’s far, far more important to save the lives of human beings and in particular children who live near busy roads than it is to save perhaps less than a minute by going 70mph than 50mph.”

Children, who had been learning about pollution and the environment, had the chance to ask the AM questions of which they were concerned about, including how pollution affects the wildlife and how can they stop it.

The Leader:

Mr Skates also learnt what the pupils were doing to help the environment, which included planting trees and walking or cycling to school.

The AM added: “All evidence now shows across all five sites in Wales that reducing the speed limit from 70 to 50 contributes to reduction in those harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions, saving humans from dangerous levels of emission.

“Anecdotally we heard a vast majority of motorists were not abiding by the 50mph limit when the cameras were out but now the cameras are in, we are likely to see significant number of motorists driving 50mph, that in turn will drive down further dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide.

“Our plan is to keep them there for as long as we need to reduce nitrogen dioxide to safe levels and maintain it to safe levels.

The Leader:

“In the future the arrival of more efficient vehicles will naturally reduce nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere and that in turn will lead to the lifting of those speed limits. But for the time being in order to get those dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide, which causes cancer and kills people, to safe levels those cameras are going to stay up.”

The Leader previously reported that opinions were divided when it came to the 50mph zone.

A report published last year showed management measures for reducing NO2 levels were put across five different locations, including the A483 in Wrexham.

School pupils also heard from Cllr Carolyn Thomas who was pushing food waste recycling which would further benefit the environment.

She said: “People think the cameras are there as a money-making scheme, but we don’t want to collect money from people. They are there to slow traffic down because of the emissions, like the Minister has said.”

Cllr Gary Cooper, who is a governor at the school, said he was grateful for the visit.

He added: “I thought he spoke really well, and I fully agree with him. I fully support what Welsh Government is going regarding the lowering of emissions.

“It’s always been known that driving 50mph is the most ecological speed to travel anyway. I thought the children were very responsive in their questions, they were a credit to the school.

“Child safety is paramount and at the end of the day it is this generation’s future that we are talking about.”