Greens pledge to tackle air pollution as Council promise cross-party approach to tackling ‘health crisis’

18 September 2017

Greens have called on Exeter City Council to live up to their promise of working cross-party to address the city’s notorious air pollution. The pledge was made at a council committee meeting last week, when councillors discussed a report on air quality in Exeter. The City Council is developing a new draft Air Quality Action Plan [1], to be published in January, which will detail how the council intends to reduce illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city – levels which have remained illegal for ten years, despite a plan being in place to tackle them, since 2010.

Green Councillor, Chris Musgrave, who attended the meeting, said:

“Greens used the meeting to call on the Council to take a cross-party, joined up approach to this public health crisis, and I am pleased that we received a pledge to do so. We will be holding the council to account on that promise. The involvement of Greens, for who tackling air pollution is an absolute priority, means we will not allow this issue to be swept aside any longer, or for the City Council to continue its official line that air quality in Exeter is ‘good’.”

Cllr Musgrave told councillors at the meeting last week that air quality monitoring in Exeter does not cover the deadly pollution from tiny particles from diesel engines and that independent monitoring by Friends of the Earth has revealed higher levels of illegal Nitrogen Dioxide pollution in the city than the council’s figures show [2].

The Green Party say that the emerging draft Action Plan falls far short of what is needed to tackle the premature deaths and health problems resulting from Exeter’s poor air quality. They say that only bold measures to reduce traffic can improve air quality. They suggest measures such as a Workplace Parking Levy, successfully used in Nottingham [3]. This levy charges larger businesses for the parking spaces they provide, and shows how businesses and Councils can work together to invest in sustainable transport measures, improve traffic flows and reduce air pollution. Greens say that money raised from this and other measures, such as variable parking charges based on demand at different times of the day, could help pay to redesign streets to benefit pedestrians, improve the cycling network and invest in public transport.

Cllr Musgrave concluded:

“Air pollution in Exeter requires bold and urgent action, involving both City and County Councils. That action requires every councillor to work together for change. With Exeter being one of the most congested cities in the UK already, and much more development still to come, there can be no better time to plan for a series of actions that will not only improve air quality, but make our city a much better place to live, with space for pedestrians, cyclists and better public transport.”  

Exeter Green Party has launched a new campaign on air quality and has started a petition calling for both Devon and Exeter Councils to take bold, joined up and urgent action on air quality.

 Notes:

[1] https://exeter.gov.uk/clean-safe-city/environmental-health/pollution-control/air-pollution/  

[2] https://www.foe.co.uk/clean-air/clean-air-campaign-air-monitoring-kit-results

[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967070X16306400

[4] Link to petition: https://exeter.greenparty.org.uk/air-pollution.html

Background info:

Bristol City Council independent air quality report shows that 8.5% of all deaths in the city are attributable to air pollution, rising to 10% in the most deprived wards  https://www.bristol.gov.uk/documents/20182/32675/Health+Impacts+of+Air+Pollution+in+Bristol+February+2017/4df2fce5-e2fc-4c22-b5c7-5e7a5ae56701

Contact: Cllr Chris Musgrave : 07872301974