Greens call for urgent action on UK air pollution crisis

Greens call for urgent action on UK air pollution crisis.

Herefordshire’s pollution hotspots in Leominster & Hereford unresolved for over 10 years

The Green Party is calling for decisive and effective action to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis ahead of the delayed publication of the Government’s draft air quality plan [1]. The High Court ruled on Thursday (April 27) that the Government must publish its draft air pollution plan before May 9 [2]

People’s quality of life can be severely affected by pollution-related conditions like asthma, heart disease and bronchitis; and air pollution is linked to 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK.

The A49 corridor through Hereford was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in November 2001, and Bargates in Leominster was declared in March 2006 – both for exceeding annual limits for Nitrogen Dioxide. [3]

Road traffic is the biggest cause of air pollution: vehicles do need to be made cleaner but reducing the growth in the number of cars on the road is also essential. Cuts to public transport have forced people to switch to using a car even for short journeys.

Diana Toynbee, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hereford said, “It’s astounding the Government had to be forced in the courts to reveal its plan for tackling air pollution and has squandered taxpayers’ money fighting to keep it a secret.”

“As a rural county most of us in Herefordshire enjoy clean air. Everyone should! But the pollution hotspots in Hereford and Leominster are of great concern, particularly as they were identified as long as 15 years ago. Effective action is long overdue”

“The stark difference between the cost of travelling by car and taking public transport illustrates clearly how little this Government cares about tackling the problem at its root. If we keep pushing people into cars instead of promoting rail and public transport, our air is only going to get dirtier and more dangerous for our children to breathe.”

“The Green Party is the only party committed to taking immediate action on air pollution, with investment in cycling, walking, electric vehicles and public transport. We’d also properly fund and expand the Clean Air Zone network and introduce a Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel vehicles alongside a diesel scrappage scheme.”



Better Transport for Hereford

Another week, another argument between our local politicians about a western, eastern or both route for a bypass which will miraculously solve all our traffic woes.
The western route is supported by the Conservative county council and what’s left of the Lib Dems. It relies on massive housing development which will fill the roads up again. It’s such poor value for money, Government won’t even fund a survey, never mind the road itself, hence the need for lots of new houses so that the builders will be made to pay for it, putting up house prices so locals can’t afford them.
The eastern route supported by It’s Our County, the City Council and Jesse Norman MP is arguably worse. It would have to go across the Lugg Meadows, close to Tupsley houses, encouraging heavy lorries and congestion along Hampton Park Road and Ledbury Road. To say that the congestion, air pollution and noise will not be popular with residents is an understatement. This is the route already stopped by Government back in the 90s, due to cost and environmental damage. So again, they won’t give us money for it.
Our politicians keep asking for bypass funding. Every time, they are told a big no. They’re told we have to try other cheaper alternatives first, to address Hereford’s main problem which is internal, not through traffic. But they keep arguing, even though the answer is the same. Civil servants in London must think Hereford is a basket case.
As they argue instead of acting, we, our kids and elderly have to sit in poisonous traffic fumes. We endure dangerous roads for pedestrians and a cycle network which doesn’t join up. Bus services are cut. Walking or biking to school feels dangerous and unpleasant, so lots of us drive our kids instead.
We need councillors who can think out of the metal box. Instead waiting even longer for bypass cash, we could focus all our efforts on funding pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities to rival those of the Netherlands. This isn’t anti-car. It would give us real choice about how we travel, improving public health and allowing the remaining motor traffic to flow freely. It would make our city more attractive to the tourists and businesses who bring in money.
We simply won’t get funding for a bypass until we’ve really tried the cheaper options. The £1.5million already secured is a good start, but we have to be consistent and determined to be taken seriously by government. How long are we going to wait in our traffic jams for our politicians to work this out? Or do we need new ones?