A “Clean Air Zone” for Southampton?

view from BitterneSouthampton City Council announced last week that a “clean air zone” will be introduced on a voluntary basis from next year. It will not be enforced until 2019 and will only target commercial vehicles (buses, coaches, lorries, taxis, vans). Liz Batten of Clean Air Southampton argues:

This is far too little, too slow, and doesn’t take account of the health risk. Private cars will still be allowed into the City with no controls or alternatives in place, and we know that they can emit many times the permitted levels of harmful chemicals (1). A recent review of studies has shown that a Clean Air Zone is unlikely to reduce the pollution we are exposed to (2)

During the visit of the Smogmobile to the City last week, levels of nitrogen dioxide (one of the harmful pollutants emitted by diesel engines) were found to be consistently above permitted levels throughout the day. Colin MacQueen, co-founder of Clean Air Southampton said:

This is an urgent public health issue, and the City Council must encourage changes to the way we travel in the City by putting people’s health and wellbeing first, not vehicles first. At a time when vision and action are needed, the role of Public Health in the City is being diminished and the role of the Health and Wellbeing Board, which has air quality in its remit, is not yet sufficiently established. After the May elections the next administration must create a more coherent approach to driving down air pollution in Southampton. We would like to hear from all the parties what their plans are for clean air in our City.

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