COUNCILS have been granted £140,000 to study the dangerous levels of air pollution on the A127.

Basildon Council’s Regeneration and Environment Committee agreed for a study to be conducted into how high levels of nitrogen dioxide can be tackled at the Fortune of War roundabout on the A127 in Laindon.

Rochford District Council is set to carry out a similar study into pollution at Rayleigh Weir.

Once completed, the study will be brought back to the councils, when councillors will discuss the best ways to resolve the issue.

A Basildon Council committee agenda suggested that a congestion charge could be imposed along the A127 between Basildon and Rockford.

Councillor Andrew Gordon (pictured), Labour councillor for Lee Chapel North, feared that putting in a congestion charge would penalise working class people.

During the meeting, councillors from all parties slammed the potential proposal for a charge.

Frank Ferguson, Ukip councillor for Lee Chapel North, said: “Any attempt to put any sort of charge on the A127 will place problems on surrounding areas.

“When you have something like the A127, you have every which way to avoid it.

“If they charge it too low, it will not effect the issue.

“If they charge it too high, it will be a nightmare across other areas.”

Don Morris, Conservative councillor for Wickford Castledon, added: “I find it irritating that we get a dictat come down from central government with a view of putting a charge on the A127.”

The study was agreed by the committee and a final report and plan will be returned to the committee by the end of December 2018.

To tackle the air pollution issue, a continuous monitor will be installed at the Fortune of War with smaller monitors being placed along the stretch of road on the east side of the junction.

Adele Brown, Labour councillor for Fryerns, reminded the committee they were not sitting to discuss solutions to the area’s high levels of pollution, but to allow the investigation to take place.

Essex County Council, as the highways authority, has the power to install a congestion charge – not Basildon Council.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: "Following a joint meeting with DEFRA, Basildon Borough Council, Rochford District Council and Essex County Council, it was agreed that air pollution is both a national and local issue.

"We have therefore formed a working group to focus on local issues and work with DEFRA to assist in reducing air pollution.

"In recent years we have made improvements to major junctions along the A127 to help reduce congestion. Improvements have now been completed at the A127/A132 Nevendon Interchange and A127/A129 Rayleigh Weir Interchange. In February we plan to launch a public consultation into improvements to the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange continuing work to tackle the issue of air pollution."