RESEARCH has revealed some of Swindon’s hardest working trees.

Scientists working for the Office for National Statistics have estimated the amount of pollution taken out of the atmosphere by vegetation.

The role of trees, plants, and even bogs in filtering out carbon dioxide and other pollution is well established. But statisticians have struggled to put a town-wide or country-wide estimate on the amount of pollution taken out of the atmosphere and the amount of cash that has saved the NHS.

But new equations by the Oxfordshire-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have done exactly that.

And calculations by the ONS reveals Swindon trees and plants took an astonishing 1.3 million kg of pollution out of the atmosphere in 2015, including more than a 100,000 tonnes of organ tissue-damaging pollutant ozone.

It is estimated this saved Swindon NHS the equivalent of £3.46m in savings. Pollution can damage your health, with the lungs and heart particularly badly affected. By helping to filter out pollution particles from the atmosphere, it is said plants can cut the number of heart and lung hospital appointments and increase overall life expectancy.

As one would expect, areas of Swindon that have more open fields and woodland tend to be those where it’s estimated more pollution is being filtered out by plants.

According to the ONS, the area of fields north of the M4 between Broome Manor and Hodson tops the list, with an estimated 8,252kg of pollution removed by greenery. A kilometre square near the Kingsdown Crematorium and East Wichel also fall into the top three.

Languishing at the bottom of the list, though, is the town centre. Plants removed just 206kg of pollution in 2015, the ONS estimated.

Lower Stratton and New Town are also on the bottom three, with an estimated 361kg and 262kg removed by plants.

Jane Milner-Barry, ward councillor for Old Town, called for green spaces in Swindon to be saved: “If the field on the other side of your garden fence is replaced by a new estate, you could be losing more than a pretty view. If there is less vegetation in your area your air quality is likely to decline.

“In the Old Town ward, Ambrose Field has been a green lung for Croft Road. Soon the field is going to be built on and we’ll be losing part of a beautiful hedge too. Maybe we should expect a decline in air quality on Croft Road.”

“Future planning policy needs to take much more notice of the effect of housing development and new roads on air quality. New developments need to incorporate less concrete and more green vegetation, and provide practical alternatives to car use.”