As we welcome in the new year with all its possibilities, we also warmly welcome our first guest post written by Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator Mike Wines. As the Green candidate for Fratton ward in this year’s upcoming local council elections, Mike is spearheading the #LetPompeyBreathe joint initiative which addresses the city’s poor air quality and brings together local groups: Portsmouth Friends of the Earth, Milton Neighbourhood Forum and  Portsmouth Green Party.

 

Mike puts this global and national issue of air quality and outside air pollution firmly in local perspective as he discusses the effect of outside air pollution on Pompey residents health, the council’s 10-year Air Quality Strategy which was published last summer  and the follow-up Draft Air Quality Action Plan which is currently in the ‘scoping phase’ and is still not published and consulted on.

So without further ado, Mike, please take us back, waaaaay back to the summer of ‘17 and tell us – what’s the deal with air quality in Portsmouth?

 

Image of Portsmouth Green Party Coordinator and local council candidate Mike Wines campaigning for clean air.

Mike writes…

On 17 July 2017, Councillor Simon Bosher, Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transportation, ‘stressed that he was approving the Air Quality Strategy report and he was awaiting the action plan which should be brought back in a timely way; he would expect a report back before Christmas.’  It’s in the minutes so it must be true.  Sadly he omitted to state which Christmas.  As we welcome in 2018 it would appear, despite the natural assumption, he didn’t mean 2017.

On 28 October 2017, I joined many others on a Clean Air Walk organised by our friends at Portsmouth Friends of The Earth.  The route took us along Fratton Road, Kingston Road and London Road Corridor, an area that breaches national targets with its high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The walk was aimed at highlighting the direct impact of traffic on local communities and our city’s air quality.  I found it sadly ironic that I was personally unable to complete the walk thanks to the actual lack of air quality in the city.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

On 2 November 2017, SE Green MEP Keith Taylor and I met with representatives from Portsmouth City Council, Dr. Jason Horsley, Director of Public Health, and Richard Lee, Regulatory Service Manager and Air Quality Specialist to discuss the city’s poor air quality.  After the meeting, Keith stated that he welcomed the news that the upcoming Air Quality Action Plan will be put out for consultation. He went on to say “However, it is worrying that there is no timeline to do this. Every day that passes, is one too many for those vulnerable to dirty air. We need to urgently ensure the city is brought within legal pollution limits and made a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists, and children walking to school.”

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

Image of Keith Taylor, the Green Party Member of the European Parliament for the South East region, being interviewed on Portsmouth’s illegal pollution levels.

I don’t know about you but, personally speaking, I am fed up with having streaming eyes and getting out of breath walking 10 minutes out of my front door.  I’d love to enjoy the markets on Palmerston Road and in the past I’d have happily taken the 20 minutes to walk down there.  My only option now is to drive down there and add to the problem. It would be nice also not to be an added burden on our overstretched NHS. (On a side note, click here to see Mike talking about his personal experience on how the lack of funding for the NHS and Care in the Community has impacted on his father’s deteriorating health. Ok, back to Mike’s post!)

To quote myself after the November meeting with MEP Keith Taylor and the Council representatives: “The city council’s Air Quality Action Strategy is wholly inadequate for the task as it stands. Unless the strategy is accompanied by a detailed plan to bring air pollution within safe levels, we are left with poor a prospect of Portsmouth being rid of its air pollution scourge. We need to see urgent solutions to address the traffic problem in the city. Not just to and from the tourist areas such as Gunwharf 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.”

Councillor Bosher appeared to neglect to ask Father Christmas last year for the Action Plan.  Let’s hope he’s asked the 2018 Easter Bunny.

 

Thanks, Mike!

To find out more about the #LetPompeyBreathe campaign, visit:

 

But wait, there’s more! Why not go offline and learn more about Portsmouth’s air quality from an informed local resident whilst having a chat and a pint with like-minded individuals?  Check out Portsmouth Green Drinks upcoming  event this January 10th at The Kings Pub, 39 Albert Road, Portsmouth, PO5 2SE at 7.30pm.

From 8pm, Mike Dobson from Friends of Old Portsmouth Association will be speaking on ‘A Community Perspective on Air Quality’. He will talk about some of his findings in relation to Air Quality in the city.  

He will briefly explore:

  • the misreporting of estimated mortality from air pollution,
  • the limitations of the analysis of air pollution and flawed assessment of trends,
  • the lack of response to inputs on consultation,
  • the strange decision not to publicise that unnecessary engine idling is illegal, and
  • question if increasing active travel (walking and cycling) is a tool to improve air quality or a hoped-for outcome when/if air quality has improved.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is a great way of meeting others working in the environmental sector, or who are simply interested in environmental & sustainability issues and want to enjoy a relaxed evening in good company.

Portsmouth Green Drinks is part of the Green Drinks network, an international informal networking group on an environmental theme.