AN ENVIRONMENTAL expert has said the air quality in Swindon is worse than in most towns.

Sustainable development adviser Jonathon Porritt, pictured, spoke to Swindon Council employees yesterday about reducing the town's carbon footprint. The co-founder of charity Forum for the Future is advising the council on sustainability.

"Swindon is more dependent on car transport than other towns so local air quality is a problem," he said. "It isn't as good as it should be."

Mr Porritt is concerned about how major development planned for the town may cause more environmental harm.

"We have been talking about how Swindon can manage the huge growth for the borough and make it work for people and the environment," he said.

"Swindon is intent on making a difference. Historically, sustainability wasn't hugely important here, but now a changeover is ongoing. Difficulties faced include sustainable transport and buildings."

The council's sustainable development manager, Lynn Forrester, said all future motions would soon consider the environment.

She said: "It is about making sure all our systems and processes take account of sustainability. We need to do more quickly. We have no choice.

"This council recognises that it doesn't know enough at the moment. It is about being an example, but at the moment we are not."

The council plans to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide it produces by 20 per cent by 2010 and 60 per cent by 2050. It is working with the Carbon Trust to find out the proportion of the greenhouse gases coming from its buildings.

Council leader Rod Bluh said: "We need to drive the whole community forward including businesses, partners and residents. We all have to play our part in meeting a global challenge.

"The town's growth agenda doesn't play into sustainability. We have an even bigger challenge to make sure it does. We have the vision and the low-level detail.

"Now we need to get it embedded into everything we do."

As previously reported by the Advertiser, Bath University scientists have warned that Swindon produces 10 times more pollution than it can cope with.

The study, which examined the town and the surrounding rural landscape, appeared in the November edition of the Landscape and Urban Planning journal.