Caerphilly County Borough Council’s ‘do minimum’ approach to poor air quality on Wales’ most polluted street should not be pursued, according to a new poll.
Most respondents to a consultation on the strategy for Hafodyrynys Road in Crumlin want the council to buy and demolish houses in the area to reach clean air guidelines faster.
Despite a study identifying demolition as the best option, senior councillors will not back it without further Welsh Government funding to ensure residents would not be left in “financial hardship”.
Plans to wait for vehicle emissions to improve over time, which were opposed by ministers and the council’s Plaid Cymru group, were backed by the cabinet in March.
But a council spokesman said: “We have had 45 responses to the public consultation to date, the majority of which agree with outcome of a feasibility study to demolish the properties.”
Nitrogen dioxide levels measured in Hafodyrynys were higher than anywhere except central London in 2015 and 2016.
Under legal requirements set by the High Court, the council must ensure that the area becomes air quality compliant as quickly as possible.
Demolishing the 23 homes in Woodside Terrace, Yr Adfa and the Woodside Shops would help reach targets by 2023.
Welsh environment minister Lesley Griffiths told councillors that any concerns over costs were not reasonable given the Welsh Government was covering the £4.5 million outlay.
But with the council only able to offer market value through compulsory purchase, members were concerned that residents might not be able to find a similarly priced property nearby.
Deputy council leader Barbara Jones said in March: “How many of these people are going to find another house of that value close to where they’ve lived and brought up their children?”
The cabinet’s preferred outcome relies on predictions that greener vehicles would reduce pollution levels by 2025, but the Welsh Government says this would be unlawful as it would take longer.
By June 30, the council must share with ministers their final proposals to meet clean air guidelines within the shortest time.
It will then be scrutinised by an independent expert review panel, with the Welsh Government expected to make a decision by the end of July.