MOTORISTS are being urged to switch off their car engines while stuck in traffic jams to cut air pollution in a notorious congestion blackspot in North Yorkshire.
A new campaign has been launched by highways officials at North Yorkshire County Council to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide by reducing exhaust fumes from vehicles passing through both Malton and neighbouring Norton.
Street signs are being placed in the Butcher Corner area urging motorists to turn off the ignition to their vehicles whenever possible to reduce NO2 emissions, which can cause respiratory problems.
The county council’s executive member for highways, Coun Gareth Dadd, said: “The major problem arises when traffic gets backed up at the Butcher Corner junction by the level crossing gates being closed.
“Traffic can be queuing for several minutes, and often drivers don’t think to turn off their engines.
“We hope that by placing signs at strategic points, we will encourage drivers to save fuel for themselves, and improve the quality of air for everyone else.”
The initiative, which is also involving Ryedale District Council, is part of the Malton Air Quality Action Plan.
The chairwoman of Ryedale District Council’s Commissioning Board, Coun Linda Cowling, said: “What many people don’t realise is that turning off the engine for only a minute or two can make a big difference to pollution, and it can also have a significant impact on fuel consumption.”
Efforts are already underway to help alleviate the traffic tailbacks snaking through Malton and Norton and improve air quality.
Work is continuing on a major scheme to ensure motorists heading for Norton and the East Riding can use the A64 to reach its destination instead of having to head through the centre of Malton.
The work to improve the A64 Brambling Fields junction to help traffic to bypass Malton town centre began on January 9. It is hoped that the road improvements will be completed by early June to avoid causing major problems on the A64 during the height of summer tourist season.
It is expected that the junction improvement and traffic management measures will reduce traffic passing through the Butcher Corner junction in Malton’s town centre by up to 30 per cent.