THE number of local congestion hotspots where pollution has reached illegally high levels could be about to nearly double.

The district already has four areas which officially exceed national pollution limits, but three more could soon be added to the list.

These are the former Saltaire roundabout at Bingley Road, Saltaire, the Dudley Hill roundabout at Rooley Lane, Bradford, and the junction of Harrogate Road and Killinghall Road in Undercliffe.

Diesel lorries and buses cause much of the pollution, despite only accounting for six per cent of traffic, according to experts.

Air pollution can cause childhood asthma, cancer, strokes and heart attacks and accounts for an estimated 222 deaths in the district each year, but the leader of Bradford’s Green group fears the victim toll could be much higher.

Councillor Martin Love, whose Shipley ward contains one of the new three suspected pollution hotspots, said: “I’m surprised it’s deemed to be as low as that. A lot of people will be affected by it - not to the point of death, but it will have a huge effect on people’s general health and wellbeing.”

Bradford Council has arguably been at the forefront of efforts to clean up air pollution.

It was only the second authority in the country to set out a low emissions strategy and has been leading on a similar strategy for the whole of West Yorkshire, which is in the process of being set up.

New cycle paths, requirements for housebuilders to include electric car charging points in developments and the ‘greening’ of older and more polluting buses are some of the projects already complete.

But despite this, the latest pollution monitoring report suggests the problem is getting worse rather than better.

Deputy council leader, Councillor Val Slater, who leads on health matters, said: “I think it’s disappointing we have made some steps and it’s not really improved the air quality to the level we would have liked.

“I think that’s symptomatic of life in cities everywhere.

“We have identified the issue and we are looking at it but there are no quick fixes. There is no magic bullet.

“It’s a matter of looking at a number of solutions, working together with partners. It’s not something we can do alone.”

Cllr Love said: “The authority, I think, is probably doing the best it can under the circumstances.

“We are doing this in the background of huge financial pressures and it really horrifies me to think what it would be like if we weren’t doing this.”

He called for extra Government funding and support to tackle the problem locally, as well as national programmes to encourage greener modes of transport.

Bradford Council is currently drafting its annual air quality report to the Government, which will identify whether pollution in the three new areas of concern remains high.

If it does, they will be formally adopted as ‘air quality management areas’ - joining the four existing hotspots in the city at Manningham Lane, Thornton Road, Shipley Airedale Road and Mayo Avenue.

This latest news comes amid speculation that Bradford could be among a tranche of 23 cities to have Clean Air Zones imposed on them by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The department is already imposing a Clean Air Zone on nearby Leeds and five other cities across the UK by 2020, which could see commercial diesel vehicles charged a fee if they enter certain areas.

Cllr Slater said the full details of what would be involved in Clear Air Zones were not yet clear, but she didn’t favour bans on diesel vehicles.

She said: “Whenever we have to take these steps, there are always losers and personally, I don’t want to put any more burdens on businesses in Bradford. I would like to work together to come up with some solutions.”

Cllr Love said he would like to see Leeds’ Clean Air Zone enlarged to encompass the whole of West Yorkshire, saying this could bring investment to help tackle the problem.

He said: “It’s not just Leeds and Bradford, it’s Wakefield, Huddersfield, Halifax. We have a very densely populated area with a lot of people moving about.

“It just hangs, you can feel it in the air.

“You can tell the difference between a windy day and a still day, when it just doesn’t clear and it hangs in the valley bottoms.”

A Defra spokesman said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.

“That’s why we have committed more than £2 billion since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles, support greener transport schemes and set out how we will improve air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones.

“We will update our air quality plans next year to further improve the nation’s air quality.”