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Author: TimSC (page 1 of 6)

July News

I spoke that the East Southsea Neighbourhood forum giving residents an update on NO2 levels and effective measures to tackle pollution. Dave Ashmore, who oversees Environment and Climate Change at the council spoke before me and we had a good (but brief) discussion with the audience and Gerald Vernon-Jackson (leader of Portsmouth City Council).

An audience member asked Dave if a Clean Air Zone was likely to be introduced. His response:

I’d like to be able to say we will have it sorted by then [2021?]. I’ve got to worry about it. I can’t sit here and lie to people. Obviously, it will be up to the government. They are the ones who will impose it on us. We had the plans; we requested the funds from government. We requested from government to help with all the things like electric vehicles, like the free public transport, like for the scrappage scheme. We have not heard anything back. Make of that what you will. This is something that the government will be in charge of.

He is right that Portsmouth needs more resources to tackle air pollution. However, I think their plans are best as a compliment to a charging CAZ, not as an alternative solution. On their own, they won’t bring us into compliance as quickly as possible.

Clean Air Zone For Portsmouth Will Benefit Health OF Poorest

Portsmouth needs a Clean Air Zone to tackle our air pollution problem because the City Council has been unable to propose an effective alternative. Councillor Vernon-Jackson claims that a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will hit hardest the poorest families in Portsmouth. #LetPompeyBreathe argues that a CAZ will have greatest health benefit for the poorest in our city.

Don’t forget the harm caused by air pollution

In 2017 DEFRA explained thatAir pollution predominantly affects those living in our major towns and cities due to the concentration of vehicles and other sources of pollution. This continues to have an unnecessary and avoidable impact on people’s health, particularly amongst the elderly, people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions, the young, and those on lower incomes

In March this year Public Health England reportedair pollution… is the largest environmental risk to the public’s health in the UK with estimates of between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths each year attributed to human-made air pollution.”

In Parliament on 1 May this year Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove statedThe environment belongs to us all” and Jeremy Corbyn pointed out that “Working-class communities suffer the worst effects of air pollution …. Children should not have to pay with their health for our failure to clean up our toxic air.” Baroness Jones of the Green Party has campaigned for clean air to be a human right sayingAir Pollution is a public health emergency responsible for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths” London Mayor Sadiq Khan has explainedTackling toxic air pollution is about saving lives. Every year thousands of Londoners die prematurely, or contract horrific illnesses and diseases because of pollution. But it’s also a fundamental issue of social justice, because those who suffer most from toxic air are the poorest Londoners who have the fewest cars“.

PCC’s Air Quality Strategy refers to 95 deaths each year in Portsmouth attributable to air pollution. Alternatively, this can be expressed as “Air pollution from man-made particles is currently estimated to reduce average UK life expectancy (from birth) by six months“. This figure refers to the harm caused by solely one type of air pollutant, small particulates PM2.5 (such as emitted by diesel vehicles).

Just over 2 years ago, 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. If in Portsmouth we had 95 people dying every year in a tower block fire there would be a national outcry. But our political leaders seem strangely quiet on the appalling statistic of an estimated 95 people dying in Portsmouth every year from just one type of air pollution. We would like Councillor Vernon-Jackson to affirm that people’s health is his top priority.

A Clean Air Zone will give most benefit to the poorest in Portsmouth

There is convincing evidence that a CAZ will benefit poorest families the most. The most recent national census in 2011 showed that the poorest families in Portsmouth endure the worst levels of air pollution, the lowest levels of car ownership and the highest levels of urban deprivation (employment, education, health & disability, and housing). Replacing polluting modes of travel with sustainable alternatives will improve air quality, which together with more active travel will greatly improve public health.

For example, Charles Dickens ward is on the border of the highly polluted Fratton Road and Kingston Road (AQMA6) and in this ward 63 per cent of households have no access to a car or van. People who already can’t afford a car aren’t in a position to ‘upgrade’ to an emissions-compliant vehicle. Instead, nearly two-thirds of these city centre residents have no option but to walk, wait for a bus or cycle in highly polluted streets, all the time breathing in the harmful traffic fumes produced by others. A charging CAZ is expected to provide a rapid reduction in air pollution. Everyone in Portsmouth will benefit from cleaner air but the health improvements will be greatest for those who can’t afford cars anyway.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection and Medical Director for Public Health England, believes that actions to reduce air pollution do not run counter to economic growth and development; rather, there is an opportunity for better air quality and economic prosperity to go hand in hand.

Don’t blame DEFRA for PCC’s lack of action to tackle air pollution

DEFRA is likely to impose a CAZ in Portsmouth in order to achieve the legal and moral imperatives of delivering clean air for everyone in the shortest possible time. This bold measure is the consequence of PCC’s long-term failure to take effective action. Many of the measures planned by the Council in recent years have been too little, too late, with little evidence of their effectiveness before introduction and with minimal effort to quantify the effectiveness once they have been introduced. Measures are seemingly designed more to create a smokescreen of activity instead of focusing on the necessary measurements of the effectiveness of actions to deliver clean air to benefit everyone in our city. The levels of NO2 around the city have been approximately constant for the last 6 years despite directives since 2010 requiring swift action. The Council should not try to blame central government for the need for a CAZ when many of the causes are the Council’s ineffective actions.

What needs to change

  • We need our political leaders in all parties to admit that previous measures by both administrations to reduce air pollution have been inadequate.
  • Our councillors must demonstrate leadership in championing the radical measures needed to deliver clean air.
  • Councillors need to show courage in giving people the stark truth that we must end the car-centric priority in our city and scrap the assumption that in our congested city there is a need to plan for increased capacity for private car travel.
  • Portsmouth should become a place where it is more attractive not to use a car and people prefer to use public transport or active travel.

Summary

  • There is a great opportunity for Portsmouth to attain cleaner air, better public health and boost economic prosperity, but only if our councillors and senior council officers have vision and give leadership.
  • A CAZ will provide the necessary impetus to accelerate the long-overdue improvements to the active travel network to provide safe, convenient and attractive walking and cycling routes, and to deliver greater investment in reliable, clean and cheap public transport.
  • Businesses may need support to introduce sustainable transport options.

New Areas Found Above Legal Limits in Portsmouth

The latest (draft) air quality figures for Portsmouth have just been published. I’ve updated my CAPIT map tool with the new figures.

My first impression is that sites with long term readings are about the same as 2017, for example London Road remains about the same. Known problem areas of Queens Road, St Michael’s gyratory and the bottom of M275 are back out of compliance. However, the expanding monitoring introduced recently have picked up several new locations that are out of compliance (above 40ug/m3). This includes Albert Road, Market Way (behind Cascades) and Fratton Bridge. The busy road by the Catholic Cathedral has a very high NO2 level of 50ug/m3. Areas barely within compliance including the top of Milton Market, the junction at the bottom of Velder Avenue, Cosham (Northern Road & Tudor Crescent) and Port Solent.

Portsmouth Announces CAZ Consultation

Earlier this year Portsmouth City Council announced we need to join the fight for cleaner air as early indications showed air pollution was getting worse. Like other cities across the UK, Central Government also requires that improvements are made to air quality in Portsmouth the shortest possible time.

Your views on a charging clean air zone for Portsea Island are really important. They will inform part of our strategy that has to consider all the options for reducing air pollution and any future consultation we may need to carry out.

The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete and is open until 5:00pm on Thursday 4 July 2019. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

News article

Survey for individuals

Survey for businesses

My previously published thoughts on a CAZ for Portsmouth

Traffic Removal to Address Congestion And Pollution

Portsmouth is a congested city which causes delays and air pollution. Traffic Removal in the UK organized a series of talks at the University of Portsmouth on 6th June. I wanted to spread their ideas to a broader audience, since Portsmouth City Council is under pressure from DEFRA to reduce air pollution as quickly as possible. They have also set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, which will be a challenge to achieve.

High Street, Guildford
Guildford high street is pedestrianized in the day time (Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm; Saturday from 9am to 6pm; and Sunday from 12noon to 5pm), which allows for loading times

Traffic removal covers a number of topics including pedestrianization (usually with some cycling provisions), filtered traffic permeability (to favour better cycling and walking over motor vehicles) and rerouting of traffic. These measures are intended to improve a local area by making a more pleasant living and working space, including increased footfall, increased retail spending, raised property values, less accidents, less pollution and more green spaces. While traffic removal has long been of interest to urban planners, the studies of UK based interventions are rather dated. With further research, we can better understand how changes to the transport system affect peoples behaviours and their satisfaction with the schemes. Traffic removal schemes are traditionally thought to displace almost all of the traffic to surrounding roads but it seems that while some displacement happens, some travellers change their transport mode or even go to a completely different destination. Why this happens is currently unclear but it is difficult to study as areas far away from a scheme can be affected. Several towns and cities are considering radical plans, including London and Leeds. Taunton has a scheme that may or may not happen in some form. Worldwide, about 12 cities have announced they are going car free.

Traffic removal often meets resistance from local businesses, residents and politicians. Paradoxically, most of them accept these schemes after a year or two, saying they would not choose to go back to the original arrangements. Businesses can overestimate how car dependent their customers are. However, the scheme has to have enough of a “wow” factor to get people to be happy with the changes, so introducing less ambitious schemes can often be counter-productive. The failed pedestrianization of Palmerston Road South is perhaps an example? Traffic restrictions can be introduced on a trial basis, which can often addresses the concerns of people affected. If the scheme is unpopular, it can be withdrawn. People’s initial reaction to traffic removal can often be “that will never work here”, until they see it actually happen. Also, businesses in nearby pedestrianized areas can object since they will loose their distinct advantage! People are often concerned that plans are made piecemeal, without an overall transport strategy.

Places that have remained traffic free, such as Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, have found different uses for pavement space such as planting trees, storing bicycles, extending shops, cafe areas, bench space and more. People tend to walk in the road. However, on the islands most bulk goods are moved by horses, which might not be appropriate for Portsmouth!

Ashford Shared Space Roads
Ashford’s shared space scheme

Shared spaces, also known as “living streets” are a type of road scheme that removes road signs, road markings and reduces the distinction between pavement and road space. The counter-intuitive effect is that accidents and traffic speed decreases because people are uncertain about traffic priorities. Schemes like this have been introduced in Bournemouth, Ashford (Kent), and in other places. Some design features are often required by blind pedestrians in order for them to navigate the space, like a small kerb. While footfall increased in these schemes, the traffic level was often unchanged. These schemes seem to have fallen out of favour after the “Accidents by Design” report, which reported low satisfaction with these changes. Motorists can still dominate a space since they are protected from injury. Planners are waiting for updated guidance before any new schemes are done. Some schemes use paving that is claimed by the manufacturer to reduce NO2 by converting it to nitrates. However, Portsmouth also has a problem with nitrate pollution in waste water.

Professor Djamila Ouelhadj from the University of Portsmouth pointed out that people will not accept traffic removal unless alternative modes of travel are provided, along with interoperability of traffic options. This can include sustainable freight distribution centres, integrated ticketing and apps to provide travel information. She plans to showcase the universities expertise in these areas as part of a new Intelligent Transport Cluster on 13th June.

High street retail has faced challenges from both Internet shops and out of town centres. Some businesses have adapted to provide experiences rather than simply selling products. City centres need a good balance of shops and services to remain healthy and vibrant. The best had predominantly office space rather than simply retail, will low industrial usage. Another study listed and ranked many factors that made healthy city centres: parking was not a high priority, and car dependence was a negative factor.

For Portsmouth, one issue is the selection of sites that are suitable for traffic removal. The easiest places to change will often experience the least benefits from doing so. The retails areas in the south of Portsmouth are fragmented between Gunwharf Quays, Commerical Road, Fratton Road and Palmerston Road: perhaps it is time for them to be connected by walking & cycling routes that are pleasant to use? It is time for politicians to be bold and tackle the city’s congestion and pollution, and to move toward active travel.

PS Clean air day is on 20th June! And Portsmouth’s annual air quality report is due soon.
PPS Madrid is a rare exception, where traffic has be reintroduced after limits were imposed.

pollution inside A car vs. Walking and Cycling

Some information based on research by Liz Batten of Clean Air Southampton

There have been loads of small studies done about pollution for inside car vs. outside car, with varying results. But in general, provided you take certain precautions, you are much better off cycling and walking, rather than being in a car. This BBC summary is pretty good and includes a case study of what to expect alongside busy roads vs quiet roads. So the moral of this tale is – when cycling and walking – always take routes that avoid busy roads, especially idling traffic, whenever possible.

Bear in mind that newer diesel cars have filters fitted to remove particulates, but the computer won’t switch it on until the engine has reached a certain temperature. So, on a cold day, by the time you’ve got to the school gate and returned home it might just have switched on. So short journeys are absolutely the worst thing about diesel engines, even Euro 6 standard, because of this. The school run in a car is probably the most polluting thing you can do to yourself, the occupants of your car and those on the pavement.

#LetPompeyBreathe in Air Quality News

Our recent activity was reported by Air Quality News! Why Portsmouth needs a Clean Air Zone

Portsmouth needs to seriously consider introducing a Clean Air Zone to improve the air quality of its poorest residents, writes Tim-Sheerman-Chase of the local Green Party.

Clean air campaigners in Portsmouth welcome Councillor Vernon-Jackson’s appeal for more funds to encourage active travel and sustainable transport. [Continue reading]

UPDATE: Portsmouth Friends of the Earth relaunched their website, which includes their Streets for People report about peoples’ best and worst roads.

Climate Emergency in Portsmouth

The motion that was passed by Portsmouth City Council yesterday:


Proposal to Declare a Climate Emergency in Portsmouth

Proposed by Councillor Judith Smyth

Seconded by Councillor Thomas Coles

We are in the middle of a climate emergency which poses a threat to our health, our planet and our children’s and grandchildren’s future. (Sadiq Khan London Mayor)

The UK exceeded the scientifically agreed safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere (350ppm) sometime in the late 1990s. Since then we have been gambling with the lives of future generations and other species. Today we have reached the point where, even if we stopped all production of fossil fuelled cars, buses, trains, ships and planes and built no more gas or coal power stations, we would still only have a 64% chance of keeping below the 1.5°C target agreed in Paris in 2015.

In Portsmouth we have very high levels of air pollution on some streets where people live, cycle and walk exposing people to dangerous chemicals. Children are particularly vulnerable. We have also had several breaches to sea defences and are vulnerable to flooding.

48 UK local authorities have declared a climate emergency including Cornwall, the Forest of Dean, Bristol, Lambeth, Nottingham, Lancaster, Brighton and Hove, and Milton Keynes. 72 cities around the world have also declared a climate emergency committing resources to address this emergency.

A climate emergency declared by a local authority can be a powerful catalyst for community wide action when paired with a clear action plan. There is no time to waste if we are to avoid the consequences of a rise in global warming above 1.5°C.

We propose that Portsmouth City council asks the Cabinet to Declare a Climate emergency to give a compelling lead to citizens, businesses and other partners of the urgency to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by 2030.

Portsmouth City council has started this journey. CO2 emissions in Portsmouth have reduced from 1243.5 kilotons in 2005 to 817.9 kilotons in 2016 and the City council has recognised that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change further reductions are needed. Several separate initiatives are underway. For example, electric car charging points, tree planting, investment in the new plastics recycling plant required to recycle more plastics jointly with Hampshire and Southampton by constructing a new Integra plant and the ‘cough, cough’ campaign together with reduction of carbon footprint of council premises and services.

However, this is somewhat disjointed and too slow. What is needed is action. Working with local business and other partners we need to develop and agree an ambitious city-wide strategy and clear action plans leading to rapid action which is openly monitored, well led and well governed. We need to enthuse and involve citizens, including young people, in generating ideas and support for green policies, plans and action. We can lead the way as a Green City.

Portsmouth City council will ask the Cabinet to:

1. Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ then ask partners to sign up including local business, schools and community groups.

2. Pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the Portsmouth by 2030, considering, both production and consumption of emissions according to the Standard provided by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol.

3. Require the Leader of the Council to report back to the Council within six months with an action plan, detailing how the Council will work with partners across the City and with central government to ensure that Portsmouth’s net carbon emissions (Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions as defined by the GHG Protocol) are reduced to zero by 2030.

4. Provide an annual report on Portsmouth GHG emissions, what is working and what is more challenging and progress towards achieving net zero-carbon emissions.

5. Require the Chief Executive to establish a ‘Portsmouth Climate Change Board’ before the end of July 2019, equivalent to that of Manchester, to underpin our efforts to decarbonise Portsmouth.

6. Write to the government requesting (a) additional powers and funding to make the 2030 target possible and (b) that ministers work with local government and other governments to ensure that the UK maximizes carbon reduction by 2030 in line with the overriding need to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C.

7.  Develop and implement a community engagement plan to i) fully inform residents about the need for urgent action on climate change ii) offer a vision of a healthier, more child friendly and greener city that is a model of best practice iii) mobilise residents in the delivery of the action plan.

This motion covers “scopes 1, 2 and 3” for Portsmouth, which basically covers all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the city (including transport), GHG from grid supplied energy and GHG outside the city that are the result of activity in a city (“transmission and distribution losses associated with grid-supplied energy, and waste disposal and treatment outside the city boundary and transboundary transportation”). That is very comprehensive. We are looking at a complete decarbonization by 2030. It will take very ambitious measures to reach this goal – presumably including a fossil fuel vehicle ban, replacement of heating systems and local wind power generation. This in turn will require massive investment in public transport and electric vehicles, and make a CAZ look like a walk in the park!

Looking at the new air quality leaflet to be distributed to all homes in Portsmouth, there is quite a startling statement about how discussions with DEFRA are going:

However analysis shows the measures we are looking at won’t improve the situation as quickly as the government wants, but we’re continuing to work with them to try to find new solutions.

Basically Portsmouth City Council has been told to go “back to the drawing board”. PCC needs to take the issue seriously. From today’s Air Quality Steering Group meeting, they certainly are talking about adopting more radical steps. However, I spoke to Gerald Vernon-Jackson (head of the council) and he was strongly anti-Clean Air Zone. I don’t think this is appropriate since I doubt that the council will be able to identify any package of measures that are as effective as a CAZ (as they are required to do). Without analysis of the alternatives, it is far too early to rule out a CAZ. In fact, a CAZ on its own is unlikely to be sufficient. Any air quality measures will be an important stepping stone towards the zero carbon target. In turn, measures for reducing GHG are likely to help improve air quality.

We were on BBC South Today! Skip to 5.39 in see us outside of Portsmouth City Council protesting alongside Extinction Rebellion.

Letter from Portsmouth to Michael Gove

Letter outlining the situation and what needs funding.

Dear Michael,

I am writing to you about the ministerial directive on air quality which Portsmouth City Council has received.

My understanding is that we received this ministerial direction to produce a plan to improve air quality because of concerns in the Defra modelling about the air quality at the end of the motorway spur into Portsmouth (M275) and then further on the roads towards Unicorn Gate – an access point into the Naval dockyard

The city council has dramatically increased the number of air sampling points in the city and our initial reading were that the actual results at the end of the M275 were significantly lower than the modelling had suggested. we were though very concerned about an area not identified by Defra which is the Fratton Road/London Road central route the the middle of the island, that the city council’s monitoring here suggested that there was a problem with air pollution and we have been working to produce a plan to rectify this.

I am sorry to have to tell you that the readings that we now have for last year show significantly increased areas of air pollution around the city and we therefore need to look at a much wider and much more radical plan to reduce air pollution. There is the possibility that the readings this year may have been affected by atmospheric conditions but we don’t know and we need to plan. I am very concerned about the possibility of an imposition of a Clean Air Zone on Portsmouth and the increased cost this would load onto both the individual and onto businesses in Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a city with economic challenges and for both families and for businesses the extra cost of a Clean Air Zone could be hugely damaging.

I would therefore like to ask for your support in looking at alternative measures to be able to reduce air pollution and therefore remove the need for a Clean Air Zone. The areas I would ask for your help with may be expensive but I would hope that the government would look to fund these to be able to get the dramatic reduction in air pollution that the ministerial directive expects. I understand that the new burdens doctrine applies and therefore we should be looking to the government for funding.

A significant proportion of the air pollution comes from traffic and therefore we need to look at what we can do to significantly reduce this and give people an incentive to use non-car based travel. Some of the suggestions I have heard are as follows:-

1) A free bus pass for each resident of the city all day, every day, to encourage people onto buses and out of their cars.
2) The creation of a trolley bus system like that operatives in our twin city of Caen, as there seems to be a much higher usage of tram and trolley bus systems than of buses.
3) Investment to convert the taxi and private hire fleet operating within Portsmouth to an entirely electric fleet.
4) That Portsmouth receives the same level of government subsidy to encourage people to cycle that is received by the London boroughs/TFL.
5) We would like to look at a transfer station where lorries bringing loads into the city can drop off their loads which are then taken in by electric cabs.
6) The government is currently increasing the number of house completions it expects from Portsmouth from around the 430 houses/flats that we currently complete to around 830 per annum. This is clearly completely incompatible with having to significantly reduce air pollution and I would ask for Portsmouth to be relieved of any housing target so we do not make the air pollution situation any worse.
7) We also need to look at the effect that shipping has both in the commercial ferry port and in Portsmouth Naval Base on these air quality figures and to work with the ship owners on a strategy to reduce this level of pollution.
8) A car scrappage scheme targeted at families on the lowest incomes who often have the most pollution vehicles but the least money to replace them with something modern with low emissions.
9) We would also like to be able to run our own bus service and to have a local bus depot to reduce the pollution of buses having to drive into Portsmouth from Fareham.

We would be very happy to work with you to try to find way in which we can have a dramatic effect in reducing air pollution.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson CBE, Leader of the Council

I’m not sure the measures listed will actually solve the air quality problem but they will provide a means to get around the city by public transport, which is a good start.

Oh yes, the city council declared a climate emergency and to go zero carbon by 2030. This will have a huge impact on air quality.

Comparing the council’s list to Public Health England’s list of proven strategies shows only a … limited overlap.

PS My interview on BBC Radio Solent

Portsmouth calls on government to help with air crisis

Portsmouth city council has called on government to help with tackling air pollution crisis. They have asked for funds to bus travel:

We are asking for the cost of bus passes to be covered because we know that many people say they don’t use public transport due to the cost.

Cllr Vernon-JacksoN

Depending on how much funding is allocated, this is either the start of cheaper bus travel [UPDATE: this would be for everyone!] or a precursor to the council saying “DEFRA forced us to implement a clean air zone”.

The council are ignoring my calls for the draft air quality plans to be published. This is important for public accountability, particularly since the plans will have a large impact on people living and working in the city.

While subsiding public transport is not the most effective way to improve air quality (according to the PHE report), it is very good at addressing social inequalities caused by further restrictions on private car use. Bus subsidies are not enough on their own, so I expect further restrictions on private car use.

One point of concern is that the council mention £8 fee for entering a future clean air zone – perhaps that should be dependent on the type of fuel the car uses, and the age of the vehicle? Older diesels are quite bad for air quality.

In other news,

Air pollution kills 1.6 million more people a year globally than smoking, research suggests. In the UK, 64,000 deaths in 2015 have been linked to air pollution, including 17,000 fatal cases of heart and artery disease

WHO (Sky News, 12 March 2019)

This is doubling of the World Health Organization’s previous estimates. This underscores the need for firmer action is needed to tackle air pollution.

I’m going to the protest to support the climate emergency motion going through the council today. I hope it gets through without being watered down!

PS Two journalists mentioned that 16 sites are above the legal limit, rather than the 4 from last year. This looks like a significant worsening.

PPS I’ve just seen a new council leaflet in air pollution. “Improving traffic flows” is probably counter productive since it increases the road capacity, which in turn increases private car use. The leaflet says even with their planned measures, they won’t be doing it as fast as the government wants – or should I say as fast as the law requires (“as quickly as possible”). It seems like they are priming the public to expect a clean air zone. This could be good if they do it well and target the most polluting vehicles.

PPPS An electric charging point has appeared in a lamp post near my house! The scheme is called SimpleSocket and has a ubitricity logo.

Car charging area