PROTESTERS are claiming pollution in a Hampshire town is reaching dangerous levels.

The Parish Ecology Group (PEG), from the Sacred Heart Church in Fareham in partnership Fareham Breathe, who provide free support for anybody affected by lung conditions, are to stage a series of protests and awareness events through the summer.

PEG staged their first protest last week when they wore anti-pollution masks as they marched through Fareham town centre, with another demonstration walk planned for tomorrow.

John Vivian, from the group, said: “The walks are peaceful protests to highlight the need to badger our representatives to do something about the pollution in our towns and cities and to raise awareness of the issues that air pollution can bring.

“Something has to be done to address this issue, so instead of pandering to the motor vehicles that are contributing to the air we breathe, proper answers need to given to make sure that air pollution and climate change is addressed properly and effectively.

“Representatives of the majority of political parties came and were pleased with the turnout and how this could change government policy.”

The protests follows results of an air pollution report by Fareham Borough Council which highlighted particularly high levels of pollution in West Street in Fareham town centre and the Redlands district of Fareham.

The report found that levels of nitrogen dioxide breached EU limits in these two areas.

As a result, two air quality management areas (AQMAs) were set up to monitor pollution, which the group says is caused by exhaust fumes and congested traffic flow.

Councillor Trevor Cartwright, cabinet member for public protection at Fareham Borough Council, said: “Funding for more bus routes is an option. However, we need to consider the costs as well as liaising with other bodies including Hampshire county council.

“Fareham in comparison to other towns in Hampshire does have bad pollution levels, however in the two AQMAs, we will look to work with residents to minimise the impact pollution has on their health.”

Councillor Roger Price, leader of the Liberal Democrats opposition on the council said: “We have a large amount of traffic problems in Fareham with traffic flow from the Gosport Peninsula contributing to this, the area around Gosport Road in the south of the town is notorious for being clogged up at various times of the day.”

A spokesperson from the British Lung Foundation added: “Toxic air, left unchecked, will lead to a rising tide of ill health for everyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Children, people with a lung condition, and the elderly will be hit hardest.

“There must be a commitment to tough action on emissions from diesel vehicles. Along with a realistic scrappage scheme that enables people to trade in their old cars for cleaner alternatives. We’re calling for a new, fair and ambitious Clean Air Act.”

Another walk is planned on Thursday at 10.30am from the Ironmasters Pub in West Street, Fareham.