TRAFFIC levels in Canterbury must be cut by 70 per cent to bring the city in line with air quality targets, according to a shock new report highlighted by South East MEP Keith Taylor.
Speaking at the European Parliament last Tuesday, he warned: "Air quality in Canterbury is above European and World Health Organisation levels of pollution.
"To reduce the pollution to recommended safety limits, we would need to reduce traffic by 70 per cent.
"This is an issue everyone should take seriously."
In the report, issued last week, officials from the European Environment Agency say residents with respiratory problems should stay indoors if pollution levels remain high.
Mr Taylor said there were potential effects of long-term exposure to air pollution including breathing and heart problems and reduced lung capacity in children.
Fumes caused by increased congestion is one of the main reasons protestors from the campaign group Get Canterbury Moving say they are against the Westgate Traffic Trial.
As part of the 12-month experiment to protect the historic towers, the city council is carrying out traffic counts and air quality tests which will affect the decision about whether to make the trial permanent.
Protestors have also expressed their concern about the way air quality tests are being carried out and plan to publish their own rival report soon. Emissions tests carried out by the city council's environmental team in May are still being analysed by experts at the University of Leeds.
More than 15,000 measurements were taken at sites throughout the city. The findings are expected to be released in November.
Meanwhile, campaign group Traffic Watch has been collecting signatures and has launched its own Facebook page in support of the trial.
Spokesman Jo Kidd said: "We believe the trial is a great opportunity that can be adjusted and improved on."
See Your Views, page 23
To take part in the council's public consultation, which ends on October 15, visit www.canterbury.gov.uk/ westgatetowerstrial or call 01227 862568.