IT IS a historic village that dates back to at least the tenth century.

With narrow streets built in a time when horse and carts were the way to get about, Botley in many ways is an English countryside idyll.

But the very streets that are part of its charm are also causing villagers major problems.

Now surrounded by other settlements, Botley sees more than 15,000 cars and lorries pass through its centre every day.

And the proximity of the h o u s e s o n the high street to the road are causing a tunnel effect – trapping pollutants and creating high levels of chemicals in the atmosphere.

These are, in turn, breathed in by villagers – and though the true extent of the health dangers are not known, general wisdom says that children, the elderly and those with underlying lung conditions are most likely to be at risk.

Villager Ron Clark said: “I came down here from London to get away from the pollutions because of my asthma and it’s actually got worse.”

Now campaigners are calling for a study into exactly how pollution is affecting residents’ health.

The area between Broad Oak and Mill Hill in the village was designated an “Air Quality Management Area”

because of high levels of pollutants recorded by council officials.

Residents of the newlyformed campaign group Botley Air Pollution quizzed officers from the Hampshire County Council’s transport department on what could be done to solve the problem at a recent meeting.

Transport bosses at the council recently ruled out building a bypass in the village for the next 20 years – saying there was not enough justification.

But villagers say their quality of life, homes and health are at risk.

Cathie Fraser, Botley ward councillor on Eastleigh Borough Council, said she would be asking the county council to fund a study, but also wants villagers to gather their own evidence.

She said: “My advice to anyone living in the centre of the village is to keep a health diary.

“How many colds are you getting? Have you had any incidents of serious lung infections?

“It would give those that have this responsibility an impression of what people are suffering.

“We do need an expert to actually baseline a study and I’m willing to fight the cause to get the county, given their public health duty, to see how they’re going to fund this.”

Chairman of Botley Air Pollution, s said it made financial sense of the council to fund a study.

He said: “It’s well worth spending a small amount of money to get the answers, before you get a massive bill from a conglomerate of insurance companies.”

The group also called on the Hampshire County Council officers to push for a review into the case for a Botley bypass.

Responding, Steve Jenkins, from Hampshire County Council’s Highways Development Planning department, said that more information was needed about new developments planned for the area before the issue would be looked at again.

“But I don’t think there would be anything for me to take to the executive member at this time.”

For more information about Botley Air Pollution group, email