Traffic at a standstill – all engines running – in the notorious Cogan Dip. The local residents have no choice but to breathe what’s being pumped into the air. Their air. The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council has had five years to do something about this – and hasn’t

New independent tests of air quality in Windsor Road Cogan – have cast doubt on the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council’s claims that air pollution levels in the area are falling.

The new tests –  carried out by an independent laboratory for Plaid Cymru – using Friends of the Earth monitoring equipment –  have revealed preliminary results showing air pollution levels are actually “50% higher than the annual limit”.

The Cogan Air Quality Management Area is outlined in blue

The air quality in Windsor Road Cogan is so bad the area is officially designated as an Air Quality Management Area – the only one in the Vale of Glamorgan . Over the last five years a series of tests have been carried out by the Vale Council – but the council has done little to actually reduce pollution levels and provide local residents with breathable air – particularly in the notorious “Cogan Dip” .

The campaign group  Friends of the Earth installed its own special pollution monitoring equipment in Cogan and discovered that there were alarmingly high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)  pollution on Windsor Road in February this year.

You can’t see it or smell it – but the air in Cogan has worrying-high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in it

Plaid Cymru say “Preliminary results show levels were 50% higher than the annual limit.” The party says that the Vale Council’s own  monitoring data also confirms that “pollution was worse in January-February (unpublished results).”

Friends of the Earth also took Nitrogen Dioxide measurements also at three sites on the main road through Dinas Powys, with highest results by the Murch traffic lights.  Here the measurement was 35, compared with 60 micro-grammes per cubic metre in Cogan. Plaid Cymru says any level over 30 may be considered harmful (normal streets are around 20) and it’s “particularly disturbing to measure 35 by Dinas Powys infant school, as children’s lung-growth is stunted by air pollution.”

Plaid Cymru says that – for legal purposes  –  one month’s data is too little; an average over 12 months needs to be taken to compare with the legal limit of 40. “The result of 60 in Cogan is significantly higher than normal highs and should shake any complacency over lower results since 2014.”

custom and practi

It’s custom and practice for Cardiff buses ahead of schedule to pull in at Cogan bus stop and wait – with engines running and passengers on board – until its time to leave for Penarth Town Centre. The diesel buses are emitting Nitrogen Dioxide all the time they’re just sitting there.

The Cogan results monitored on equipment at the bus stop where Penarth-bound  buses running ahead of schedule –  pull in and wait with engines running and passengers aboard to soak up time before entering Penarth Town Centre . Here – Plaid says people are exposed to diesel pollution crossing to the bus, waiting for it and even sitting in it.

Plaid says the nitrogen dioxide level “appears rather higher than the Council results from sensors on house frontages in the same road“.  Friends of the Earth is now going to carry out further monitoring and cross-check the results against Vale Council data. The Vale Council’s air pollution report of August 2016 had suggested that results were improving in the Cogan “Air Quality Management Area” –  but FoE experts say that may have just been a fluke of the weather.

Environmentalist and Plaid Cymru candidate for St Augustine’s Anne Greagsby in the Cogan Dip with colleague Professor Max Wallis of Friends of the Earth.

Anne Greagsby –  who is a member of Friends of the Earth and is standing as a Vale and Penarth Town Council candidate in St Augustines in the May 4th elections  –  says “there is evidence that air pollution worsens lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). In addition, research suggests a role for traffic-generated air pollutants in the development of asthma and COPD, particularly in those living close to busy roads. There is also evidence of a link between traffic-related pollution and heart diseases as well as premature death.

She says “For too long the council has ignored this serious problem. So what can be done about it? For people living in Cogan, fit tight windows and doors and keep them closed during periods of peak traffic when near-road pollutant concentrations are typically highest.

Ms Greagsby says Cardiff Council buses should not be stationary at the Cogan bus stop with diesel engines running and that “anti-idling policies for all vehicles” should be introduced.

She says bus companies should be upgrading their buses with a  “combination of hybrid and Euro-VI standard buses on this route to cut back nitrogen dioxide (NO2) bus emissions. Removing the oldest, dirtiest buses from our streets will make a big contribution to tackling transport pollution.”


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  1. Dan says:

    A ward full of Labour councillors on both town and Vale council level and nothing done…..Bit of common theme over the last five years in St. Augustines

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Horrific though these statistics are the real issue here is that the Vale of Glamorgan Council will ignore this evidence to bulldozer through the Cog Road, St. Cyres and Upper Cosmeston Farm Housing Developments.These will add another 6000 population/ 3000 Vehicles.
      It is vital the 12 Months of Pollution Readings are provided. What is needed is Cross-Party and Joint Pressure Group Cooperation. A little less Playground squabbling by the Adults may save the children of local Primary Schools from Asthma or worse diseases.
      Planning Inspectors are pre- programmed to speak with Double-Plus Good 1984 Orwellian lies so this Cross Party bickering just gives them ammunition.
      Please let it be “United we stand” or we will lose a Public Inquiry on Housing overcrowding.

      Below is a sample Glossary of Housing Inquiry Terminology used by Inspectors and why matters will get worse unless you choose to campaign together.

      1.” I am not minded to accept your pollution argument”
      = true meaning as follows
      I couldn’t care less about your kids and pollution I am getting £200k a year for saying I don’t

      2.” This number of homes is consistent with the Vale Local Development Plan”
      = true meaning as follows…
      I am using the Post Second World War 1945 Baby Boom Stats to predict population expansion (as recommended by Winston Churchill and the Building Industry ) to promote the myth of a Housing Shortage.

      3.” I am also using EU Immigration population predictions and ignoring the BREXIT vote”
      = true meaning as follows …..
      Under no circumstances will I consider overcrowding or the needs of the Local Residents when I can still use evidence provided by the EU although it is anti democratic, mistrusted, discredited and greatly despised by the majority of the UK population.

      • penarthblog says:

        I agree with you when you suggest this issue should be a part of a wider conversation involving housing, transport and infrastructure, putting aside party politics. On points 1 and 2, I can’t really comment as for point 3, you make the mistake of attributing to the EU powers they don’t have. The UK government interpret EU regulations and adapt them to the local circumstances within the UK and have substantial powers in that.

  2. penarthblog says:

    I live in Cogan and so understand this more than most as I use buses all the time, particularly to Penarth. You are right that some buses run their engines whilst at that bus stop. Now I’m no expert on this topic and maybe others who are in the know would be able to make some fact based observations, but it seems to me that yes buses discharge harmful pollutants and an answer must be found, possibly in the form of electrically powered buses, but the real problems are traffic, on many occasions, that traffic is bumper to bumper from Penarth Police Station to Barons Court Crossroads and yet when the schools are on holiday, I see a fraction of that self same traffic. Now I’m realistic enough to know that there are no easy answers because of the topography and geography of the area, Windsor Road is the main route from and to Cardiff. I suppose more use could be made of public transport, buses and trains, but for many reasons, that wouldn’t be a viable solution. I would like people on here to suggest practical and sensible solutions that could be implemented without any tribal jibes. Here’s hoping!

    • Mgg says:

      Well said .anyone got any ideas ?

    • David Moorcraft says:

      One part-solution is to look at the through-flow of traffic out of Penarth, from “Tesco’s” mini roundabout and the pedestrian refuge just North of it , across the railway bridge, at peak times. It could easily be speeded up to reduce idling exhaust fumes in Cogan.
      Cllr Burnett did get the Baron’s Court traffic light phasing altered in Penarth’s favour, but this hasn’t addressed the fact that traffic is severely bottlenecked by the pedestrian refuge and the white line over the bridge down to ONE LANE.

      So when the lights Do go green , there are large gaps in the traffic flow as cars squeeze across the bridge and then race to get through the lights. Traffic flow is well below its potential.
      Mr Rapier is right to point out that Cllr Burnett and others are waving through huge housing developments (with the inevitable 2 cars each ?) without telling us how the infrastructure is going to cope.
      I live in Cogan.

      Please use your Vote in May !!

      • That is a very good point. Widening the Bridge to allow for an extra lane would improve the flow of traffic. Also at the Barons Court, the lane for Penarth Road blocks cars heading to Dinas.Powys. I would also suggest we also need some way for pedestrians to cross from Cogan Station across to the Marina side (i.e. bridge or the tunnel which used to be there). Not only for safety but to keep cars moving.

      • Craig howell says:

        Well said david. I also live in cogan and have walked along Windsor road during the rush hour and noticed that a lot of the cars only have one occupant, how about a car share scheme? 🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗

      • David Moorcraft says:

        PS The railway bridge would not have to be widened; at the moment the white line is pointlessly in the middle of the road over the bridge; move it, and the refuge, so that there’s only ONE lane Into Penarth, which would allow two (car) lanes OUT and a better flow of traffic.
        I believe the reason it’s not being done is that when Tescos was being planned many years ago, the then Council agreed the current arrangement to encourage the development, even though it’s ineffectual.
        Please look at it the next time you’re stuck in a queue.

      • Tom says:

        Agree with you, Craig Howell – all the cars I see have one person in, but how do you encourage a car share scheme? We’re constantly told life now runs at a more hectic pace than ever before and I know of some who would probably (guiltily) admit their time in the car is the only time they ‘get to themselves’. Looking at these people in their precious little cocoons every morning – and I don’t mean that in an especially snarky way – I don’t see them giving it up easily.
        It seems to me a little like smoking – they know it’s a bad thing to do but keep doing it so presumably they feel some sort of enormous benefit and that will be difficult to wrest from them.
        Meanwhile the people of Cogan are forced to live with the lids of their lives closed.

  3. Tim says:

    I feel for the people in this area. They shouldn’t have to keep their windows closed to keep out the pollution. Aside from the buses, there are the trains too.
    The only thing that will stop the lazy @*%kers using their cars on this road is a toll.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Was it like this before they tampered with the roundabout and installed those stupid and unnecessary lights at Baron’s Court?
    As I recall, there never used to be this kind of snarl-up when traffic moved seamlessly through the roundabout but no, the council had to interfere, and now it’s a right mess.

  5. AK says:

    There is no longer a ‘bus stop’ on the leisure centre side. The bus parks in the traffic flow making the queue worse.

  6. One of the bus timetables through Cogan is shown here – I presume what they call “Cogan Leisure Centre” is the bus stop in question although this is hardly a useful description.
    The solution to the buses waiting time is to remove this timing point altogether and have the buses wait in the town centre instead which I thought Barry would have requested if they were taking the pollution seriously.

  7. Peter Church says:

    Traffic nightmare in and out of Penarth and what happens, extra roads, no extra houses stupid!!

  8. Simply pointing the finger at idling busses and telling residents to close windows, will not solve anything. For a start the busses are probably removing a number of cars from the road in the first place. We know the volume of traffic through Penarth at peak times is too high. We need a frank an open discussion about how we meet these challenges. Some will happen in time with growth of low emissions / electric vehicles. Others will need the Council to step up and be more proactive in improving public transport offering/alternatives and the current road layouts in Penarth.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      True. however we need all political parties to acknowledge this is a serious problem, already there is agreement that something must be done about diesel vehicles. In London from October 2017, a £10 toxicity charge or T-Charge will apply to the oldest and most polluting vehicles in Central London.There are also Ultra Low Emission Zones and neighbourhoods (ULEZ) areas within which all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge to travel. They are also Introducing hybrid buses and 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, putting the greenest buses on the capital’s most polluted routes.
      The VALE COUNCIL Air Quality Progress Report 2016 concluded that it demonstrates that currently Air Quality within the Vale meets National Air Quality Standards!?

  9. Marcia says:

    I live in the Air Quality Management Area, and I suffer to see (through my window) people BURNING piles of leaves (and other things) on the allotments at the side of the road. For sure this shouldn’t be allowed!??! It is our air, for goodness sake!! And it’s already bad as it is!!!

  10. Gary Soltys says:

    OK, so allegedly this is the proposed location of Penarth’s new community health centre. Perhaps there’s a need for some sensible joined up thinking between the planners, Local Health Board and local politicians in realising that relocating health care services to Cogan Leisure Centre is totally illogical. This nonsensical suggestion would drag community healthcare out of the heart of the community it currently serves, making it inaccessible to many Penarth people, requiring car access to get there while contributing to the ongoing and growing pollution problem. I’m sure that our newly elected politicians will be balancing the needs of the local community over the constant desire to seek cheaper solutions at any cost.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      And what role is Gary playing as a member of the secret momentum group developing the town plan? Seems if anyone knows what local politicians are up to its you. The health hub idea has been encouraged by local politicians as they suggested the site ignoring the community and even severe health issues caused by air pollution in that location. The building on Stanwell Rd/Rectory Rd corner would have been better but its been sold off to developers. Would you not agree that the momentum group meetings and minutes should be open to Penarth residents? Why are there no women in this group?

    • Tom says:

      I hope those making the decision about the possible relocation of health services to Cogan Leisure Centre read this excellent post of yours, Gary Soltys.
      I believe traffic and pollution are reaching critical mass in this area, and such a move would be a massive mistake.

  11. Tom S says:

    Just knock the houses down and plant some trees, that will sort it. Who wants to live there anyway, It’s an eyesore at the gateway of Penarth. They look like 3rd world slums, It’s Dreadful.. The only thing nice about that road is the billboard with the lovely photo of Daved Baker and his wife.

  12. Fishhenge says:

    Time to close that section of Windsor Road and direct all traffic through Albert Road and the Marina to the Barons Court, where the housing density is lower.

  13. AK says:

    Sadly the congestion will only get worse. New housing developments will produce more cars, and the Dinas by-pass (if it’s ever built) will simply bring more cars to the Baron’s Court more quickly.

    It needs fresh thinking. Could there possibly be a way for a Penarth ring road to work ? Or is there now a possibility for a Penarth and Barry shuttle train to the new platform at Central ?

    What about water transport ? The water buses start too late and finish too early for commuters – why ? London (and other cities) makes great use of their waterways for commuters. What about a monorail or a commuter service back and forth across the barrage ? The roadway is separated from the pedestrian route (and I’d fight any proposal to open it to full traffic)

    I’ve just got my bus pass – the buses are great (if a bit rattly). No traffic queues, no parking costs.

    What a shame the free pass is not integrated to include trains and boats.

    • penarthblog says:

      You make some interesting points. One suggestion is to reopen Penarth Dock Station with a pedestrian link to Cogan Station, another suggestion is for a Ferry Stop across the road from Tesco, but as you rightly say, the timetable would have to be much better and as happens in other cities around the world, complete integration of bus, trains and ferries. I would also favour extending the rail line to Forrest Rd possibly as a tram, but that would meet with massive opposition. You also point out the obvious drawback of the proposed Dinas Powys and needs no further comment. Another contributor has suggested remodeling Windsor Rd in the area between the Tesco roundabout and Barons Court crossroads, maybe someone can pursue this further. I look forward to more constructive ideas.

  14. Max Wallis says:

    Cardiff Bus drivers could turn off their engines when waiting. But the main source of pollution is vehicles stating up the hill from stopping or low speed. The shops by the old dock station are also a pollution hot-spot on Vale Council monitoring – two lines of cars stop-start on the hill. One possible measure is smart traffic lights working in phase with the Barons court lights eg. at the Plassey St junction, that hold up vehicles until the road through Cogan is clear – then a pulse of cars can flow through smoothly – probably more vehicles than the present stop-start movements. May need light controls at the Tesco roundabout too..

  15. penarthblog says:

    This week is interesting in Cogan. With the school’s closed, the amount of traffic is much lower, very much lower!!

    • AK says:


      I can never understand the need to transport children across the city to another school.

      The local authority should be required to place local children in local schools, and to ensure there are enough teachers and classes to cope.

      (That plus emptying the bins, keeping the streets clean and filling potholes).

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