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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References

Every breath you take – join the launch of Clean Air Southampton

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29.2.16 – Bristol. An Enviro Technology Services Air Quality Monitoring Vehicle in Bristol. Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

By Liz Batten & James Dyke

A breath of desperately needed fresh air is coming to Southampton this week with 2 events focusing on air pollution in our city. Wednesday 13th April sees the launch of Clean Air Southampton, our local campaign group on air quality. The team will be taking to the streets to help combat Southampton’s air pollution, which ranks among the worst in the UK.  As part of the launch they will be monitoring air quality around the city, explaining how dangerous breathing bad air can be, how individuals can protect themselves, and putting pressure on local and national government to do much more for clean air in the city.

And without pausing to catch our breath, Friday 15th, 6.30-8pm brings the return of the popular Researchers’ Café also focusing on air quality. This informal event will take place at Mettricks, 117 High Street, SO14 2AA – everyone welcome!

  • Is unpolluted air possible to obtain in a modern industrial society? with Professor Ian Williams
  • Types of air pollution and their potential effects on our health, with Dr Matt Loxham
  • Road Traffic and Southampton’s Poor Air Quality, with PhD student Matt Grote

To kick things off, the Clean Air Southampton duo will be hosting a visit from a Smogmobile – an electric van which continually monitors air quality as it drives along roads. It will start during the morning rush hour in the East of the city on Wednesday 13th April, go via West Quay, and then take in the West of the city during the afternoon school run and evening commute.

“We have heard a lot about poor air quality lately, and Southampton is one of the cities most affected in the UK,” says co-founder Liz Batten. “Clean Air Southampton aims to keep up the pressure to remove diesel engines from the city through support for a scrappage scheme, a low emission zone, better integrated low emission public transport, electrification of the port and the railways, and modernisation of gas central heating boilers.”

The Smogmobile will also be parked up outside the main entrance to West Quay on Above Bar at lunchtime on 13th April. The Clean Air Southampton team will have maps showing the air pollution hotspots in the city – come along and find out about the air quality near homes, offices and schools.

Clean Air Southampton was founded and is managed by Southampton residents Liz Batten (Transition Southampton) and Colin MacQueen (Western Docks Consultation Forum).

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