A call from HelpBritainBreathe.org.uk to introduce clean air zones in our cities, diesel scrappage and a new Clean Air Act.
About 30 people attending Green Drinks yesterday focused on local air pollution. I personally heard from people from Portsmouth Friends of the Earth (FOE), Portsmouth Cycle Forum (Waterlooville Air), Portsmouth Green Party, Campaign Exchange Portsmouth, Keep Milton Green (I think), Friends of Old Portsmouth and others. Some great ideas we suggested included increasing pedestrian+cycle routes, auditing the council’s air quality sensors and IOT particulate sensor networks. Many thanks to Mike Dobson for such an informative talk.
Friends of the Earth are organizing a walk on 20th Jan around local green spaces (Kingston Park, Milton Cemetery, Milton Common, Baffins Pond and Kingston Cemetery) to highlight their value.
Air pollution is a big problem in Portsmouth. To plan for the future, we need to know if the problem is getting better or worse, and by how much. One of the biggest contributors to air pollution is local traffic. A 2010 report commissioned by Portsmouth City Council found that a significant increase in traffic was expected:
Portsmouth City Council (PCC) operate a number of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate monitoring stations. The legal limit for NO2 is 40μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre). More traffic is a cause of concern in high pollution areas, including along the western corridor M275/Mile End Road/Market Way/Anglesea Road, specifically:
- Stanley Road (by the M275), 36μg/m3 NO2 in 2016 (which is increasing year on year)
- Sovereign Gate (Commercial Rd) 36μg/m3 NO2 in 2016
- Lord Montgomery Way, already 43.5μg/m3 NO2 in 2016 (which is increasing year on year)
An increase in 41% in traffic levels would be disastrous for air quality in Portsmouth and push these areas into an illegal and unsafe level of pollution.
However, a 2017 study commissioned by Portsmouth City Council to determine the scale of the air pollution problem in 2020 only allowed for a 2.1% rise in city wide traffic from 2015 to 2020. This seems to be inconsistent with the 2010 traffic report. Based on the 2017 study, Portsmouth City Council hopes that the introduction of less polluting vehicles will bring the city within legal pollution limits. If the 2017 traffic projection is wrong and we do see a large increase in traffic, we would likely see air pollution get even worse. PCC seem to want to have it both ways: to build new roads for higher traffic levels at the same time as claiming traffic levels are not significantly increasing.
Portsmouth City Council is currently planning a major road scheme in the city centre, intended to reduce congestion by increasing capacity. It is currently at the planning application stage (please go there and comment! [Update: I am told that the closing date for comments is Friday 12th Jan]). However, simply increasing road capacity is only going to worsen air quality. What we need to do instead is to reduce car usage by providing alternatives, including public transport and bicycle routes.
Wednesday 10 January Portsmouth Green Drinks 7:30pm – Mike Dobson from Friends of Old Portsmouth Association will bring more thoughts to the table with: ‘A community perspective of Portsmouth’s Air Quality Strategy.’ The Kings, 39 Albert Road, Southsea PO5 2SE.
Update: another overview of where we are with #LetPompeyBreathe: https://greenpompey.org.uk/shades-of-green/2018/01/05/let-pompey-breathe/
Portsmouth Green Party launches the #LetPompeyBreathe facebook page. #LetPompeyBreathe is a joint initiative involving Portsmouth Green Party, Portsmouth Friends of The Earth, Milton Neighbourhood Forum and other groups concerned with the dangerous state of Portsmouth’s Air Quality.
Portsmouth City Council are expected to publish an Action Plan in the “near future” (although there is no firm timeline for this) which adds detail to their recent Air Quality Strategy.
Organized by Portsmouth Friends of the Earth, the Clean Air Walk on 28 October had over 20 participants that walked along AQMA 6, which runs along Fratton Road, Kingston Road and London Road. They produced a report summarizing the comments collected on the day on how to tackle air pollution. Ideas included:
- Improve public transport
- Improve walkability
- Improve cycling infrastructure
- Reduce the number of car journey
- Reduce vehicle emissions
- Improve the street environment
It is hoped these suggestions will be included in the forthcoming PCC Draft Air Quality Action Plan.
Portsmouth Green Party welcome decision to put air quality action plan out for consultation but are deeply disappointed that there is no timeline to accompany this process.
Mike Wines, Portsmouth resident and air quality campaigner said: “The public deserves to know just how dangerous the air they breathe can be. With more and more people are getting involved in the Let Pompey Breathe campaign, we need the council to introduce better solutions to address the traffic problem in the city. Not just to and from the tourist areas such as Gunwhalf Quays, but the traffic problem across all areas of the city such as Fratton Road, Kingston Road and London Road where residents live, work and learn. A more joined up approach is needed and a consultation on the plan is welcomed, however, a timeline must be put in place to ensure this plan isn’t kicked into the long grass.”
Keith Taylor MEP said: “There is overwhelming demand from Portsmouth residents that action is taken to address air quality. Following Friends of the Earth march at the weekend, today’s public meeting highlighted the genuine concern to the health problems associated with the cities levels of nitrogen dioxide.
“Having met with key representatives from Portsmouth City Council, I welcome that the upcoming Air Quality Action Plan will be put out for consultation, however, it is worrying that there is no timeline to do this or reassurances that this will be shared with Portsmouth residents and transport providers in the coming months. Every day that passes, is one too many for those vulnerable to dirty air, we need more urgent delivery to ensure the city is within legal limits and a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and children walking to school.“
Portsmouth Council confirmed that the city is starting to measure Particulate 2.5, the extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air. This is welcome news, as while measuring these dangerous particulates isn’t a legal requirement, the Greens are calling for it it to be included.
Rachel Hudson, Portsmouth Friends of the Earth said: “It shouldn’t be an aspiration to have clean, fresh air for everyone, everywhere in our city – it is our right. We’ve been monitoring air pollution levels using our own diffusion tubes and we want to ensure community input is listened to by those who can make a difference. With people’s health being a risk, a public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure is urgently needed.“
Campaigners and residents now await Portsmouth’s Draft Air Quality Action Plan to be published.
Coverage in The News.
20 Sept, 2017 Public Health Annual Report draft published
In Portsmouth, “[air] pollution causes an estimated health burden equivalent to another 100 deaths a year” although this figure only includes PM(2.5) particulate pollution.
28 Sept, 2017 Major Portsmouth road is breaking air quality rules, The News
Rachel Hudson, from Portsmouth Friends of the Earth said “Portsmouth has always put cars first instead of other transport options such as cycling and walking. This needs to change.”
Portsmouth City Council operates a network of pollution monitoring stations throughout the city. Portsmouth currently has five air quality management areas where levels of NO2 are of particular concern. These include the area from Fratton Bridge via Kingston road to London Road in North End, the High Street in Old Portsmouth, the Eastern Road along Milton Common, Mile End Road as it turns into the M275, and Queens Street by the Naval Base.
NO2 diffusion tube (NDDT) monitoring found unsafe NO2 levels at 6 sites (above the allowed annual mean NAQO of 40μg/m3), mostly in the air quality management areas above. The highest NO2 readings were recorded at The Tap pub in North End (49μg/m3). The Northern Road area in Cosham and Albert Road in Southsea both show signs of significant deterioration.
The continuous NO2 monitoring program found an increase in NO2 most sites since 2015. “[Compared to 2015, the] 2016 NO2 annual mean level increased across the four [continuous monitoring sites] … to result in a worsening in LAQ [Local Air Quality]. The maximum recorded concentration was at London Road kerbside CAQMS (41.21μg/m3). This level breaches the NO2 annual mean NAQO” However, the 5 year trend from most of these sites is broadly unchanging (i.e. dangerously high).