POLLUTION on the usually-busy A48 in Chepstow has fallen dramatically since the coronavirus lockdown came into force.

In March last year nitrogen dioxide readings on the busy main road showed an average of 49.6 micrograms (mg) per cubic metre (per hour on average). 

But in March 2020, the same readings show levels of the harmful chemical had fallen by more than 50 per cent, to an average of 21.3mg.

This year's readings were taken on the week commencing March 17 - when Boris Johnson told people they should work from home. The 2019 readings were taken on the week starting March 19.

Of all the places in Wales with monitoring stations, only Hafodyrynys had a bigger fall in nitrogen dioxide average levels, falling from 72.6mg in March 2019 to 41.1mg in March 2020.

Tim Melville, co-ordinator of Transition Chepstow, which is fighting to bring traffic issues to the attention of the authorities in the region, said: "There are some silver linings coming from the COVID-19 virus, but of course these can in no way outweigh the stress to families, illness, death and damage to the economy.

"The COVID-19 virus has got us all asking questions about our working and commuting habits: do we need to go into the office every day, can we work from home more?

"Clearly this doesn’t apply to all types of employment, but employers and employees will certainly be asking themselves if all this commuting is necessary, and I am sure one of the positive outcomes of COVID-19 will be a reduction in commuting."

Cllr Armand Watts said: "Clearly the world is changing, and once we get beyond this crisis, we can perhaps start thinking about living slightly differently, and we can get rid of the obsession with travelling to work every day in our cars."

Cllr Paul Pavia added: “These are probably the lowest levels seen in decades. I think we will all have to adopt to a new normal when this public health emergency is over and the restrictions on movement are lifted.

"If that means more people working from home or working differently without making so many business related road journeys, then something really positive would have emerged out of this dire situation. If that does happen, then I would certainly reconsider pushing for a new bypass.”

In the UK, where levels are found to be above or close to the levels set to protect our health, local councils are required to measure a range of air pollutants.