AN AIRPORT could be producing as much as 70 per cent of a town’s toxic emissions, a report has claimed.

The Centre For Cities think tank found Crawley has the fourth highest concentration in Britain of harmful nitrogen dioxide.

Scientists say the gas can cause early death for people with long-term health conditions such as asthma.

But the think tank’s report shows more than 70 per cent of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Crawley is produced by “non-road transport”, including nearby Gatwick.

Campaign To Protect Rural England activist Richard Knox-Johnson worried there was no way to reduce emissions from the airport.

“There is no real way to cut emissions from planes in the short-term at least,” he said.

“The technology just isn’t there.

“There is considerable pollution across the country coming from aircraft during take-off, landing and taxiing.

“What’s not clear is how high the plane needs to go before the pollution ceases to become a problem.”

The Centre For Cities report also raised concerns over toxic pollution in Crawley called PM2.5.

These are pollution particles linked to a heightened risk of heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.

The report found 43 deaths in Crawley in 2017 could be linked to PM2.5.

About 20 per cent of PM2.5 in the town is produced by non-road transport.

Crawley Greens spokesman Iain Dickson called the report “worrying”.

“I think we should have air quality meters in every neighbourhood to make sure everywhere is safe,” he said.

“It’s an issue we have brought up a lot. We’re clearly concerned.”

A Gatwick spokesman said it worked closely with Crawley Borough Council to monitor air quality.

But it disputed how responsible it was for air pollution in the town.

“This estimated data includes emissions at the airport and so does not reflect actual air quality levels in Crawley, which is what the report suggests,” he said.

“We work closely with Crawley Borough Council on air quality monitoring and our understanding is that Crawley does not have any air quality exceedances, except along the Hazelwick Roundabout.

“The airport’s monitoring at the end of the runway also shows that Gatwick operates well under the annual limit values for NO2, PM.10 and PM2.5.

“Furthermore, the prevailing winds at the airport are not towards Crawley.

“We also work with the council on wider initiatives to promote public transport and active travel.”

Crawley Borough Council environment chief Gurinder Jhans added: “We’re planning to run some more events later this year to take up clean transport technologies.

“Right now that technology is in its infancy. It’s something Gatwick is looking at.

“In Crawley we’ve declared a climate emergency so we’re taking some steps.”