SEVERAL of the borough's busiest roads are among the most polluted in Greater Manchester, it has been revealed.

A number of roads in the town centre, as well as stretches in Prestwich, Whitefield and Radcliffe, have been blacklisted as having higher levels of air pollution than previously thought, in a report published today.

Topping the list were sections of Angouleme Way, Rochdale Road, and Peel Way ­— at the junction of Derby Way, and leading down Bolton Road and Crostons Road.

The stretch of Bury New Road straddling the M60 in Prestwich and Whitefield, and Water Street in Radcliffe also topped the analysis of 152 stretches of the region’s roads which will breach legal limits for harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) beyond 2020, unless action is taken.

However Bury Council’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Alan Quinn, has said that he is not surprised by the data and has claimed that the Government is now trying to pass responsibility for the issue on to local authorities, after being sued by environmental activist organisation Client Earth.

Cllr Quinn said: "There is ongoing work because the Government has dropped this on us. We are trying out best in trying circumstances, and if they gave us the necessary powers and money we would be able to solve this."

The Government has now instructed Greater Manchester, along with dozens of other areas, to put forward proposals to tackle NO2 air pollution.

Bury Council, with the nine other Greater Manchester councils, is working to create a joint Clean Air Plan ­— in collaboration with Public Health England and the Joint Air Quality Unit.

Last year the Government’s air pollution model found just 11 locations in Greater Manchester expected to contravene NO2 limits beyond 2020.

However, today’s regional modelling has exposed the problem to be more widespread and worse ­— with higher than expected NO2 levels.

Poor air quality is the single greatest environmental public health issue facing the UK, with road transport ­— primarily diesel vehicles ­— causing 80 per cent of roadside NO2 emissions.

Pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems, cutting life expectancy and leading to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in the region each year.

Eleanor Roaf, Greater Manchester’s lead director of public health for air quality, said: “Air pollution is the number one environmental public health issue in Greater Manchester.

"And it’s children, older people and those in poor health who are hit hardest by polluted air.

“But it’s not just them who would benefit from this problem being tackled effectively.

“Polluted air increases the chance of hospital admissions and trips to A&E. It’s harming our health and is linked to increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

"That’s why urgent steps need to be taken to ensure this issue is tackled as quickly as possible.”