A MAGHERAFELT councillor has blasted street collectors for causing traffic build up in the town centre.

DUP councillor Paul McLean was speaking after news that two of Magherafelt’s busiest streets have been declared specialist Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) after recent tests failed EU standards.

Air readings from Church Street and King Street showed dangerous levels of Nitrogen Dixoide (NO2), a gas emitted from vehicle exhausts. It is the first time the council has had to declare an AQMA in the district.

Councillor McLean, who said he was not against street collecting, added the practice brought Magherafelt “to a stand-still” usually on the busiest day of the week.

“One of the problems I think is street collecting,” said the councillor at a recent full council meeting.

“I would say that street collecting in the town is one of the main reasons for traffic congestion.

“I am not against street collectors, but, they block every main route into the town, build up idle cars and bring the town to a stand still.”

Council will now come up with an action plan aimed at reducing the levels on both streets. At present the Environmental Health Department currently measures nitrogen dioxide levels using diffusion tubes in both areas and will continue to do so to provide further data.

Within 12 months from the AQMA coming into force, a further assessment and action plan will be forwarded by Magherafelt Council to the Air and Environmental Quality Unit of the DOE.