Exeter Green Party has slammed the Labour Council over a new draft Air Quality Action Plan, which sets out ideas for reducing illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, caused almost entirely by the city’s traffic. Levels of the air pollutant – known to shorted lives and cause serious health problems, have remained illegal for ten years, despite a plan being in place to tackle the problem since 2010. The draft report is being considered by Exeter City Council’s Scrutiny Committee on January 11th before being opened to public consultation .
Green Party Councillor, Chris Musgrave, said:
“We are delighted the City Council has shifted up a gear and is recognising, as Greens have for years, the deadly impacts of air pollution on Exeter residents. In particular we welcome the fact they have taken up our recommendation for a Workplace Parking Levy, which has helped Nottingham seriously invest in environmentally friendly transport solutions.
“However, they are clearly still stuck in the slow lane when it comes to delivery. Sadly, this draft Action Plan means we are unlikely to see any significant improvements to air quality before 2019. This report shows us yet again, Exeter is not a well-run Council under Labour. It is big on ambition but lacks detail on how air pollution will be tackled in our city”.
Greens argue that the draft Action Plan fails to provide any evidence to back up the suggested actions. They point to a more effective approach taken in Winchester , where proposed actions are graded by the impact they will have on air quality. They also criticise the Council for failing to provide sufficient explanations about some of the proposed actions, so making commenting on them difficult.
The council’s report highlights the real problems caused by HGV’s, but a ‘Clean Air Zone’ for the city has been ruled out without any explanation. This designation would enable the City Council to ban or limit the most polluting vehicles from entering the city. Diana Moore, Green Party spokesperson for St David’s ward, said:
“A Clean Air Zone would provide the legal framework for driving out the most polluting vehicles from the city. In particular, it would be a useful tool to stop dirty lorries thundering through Exeter, making our air cleaner and streets safer.”
Cllr Musgrave concluded:
“Air pollution in Exeter requires bold and urgent action, involving both City and County Councils. The council has sat on its hands for too many years and this plan is just a wish list, not a proper action plan.
“We call on the council to present a more robust plan that has much clearer proposals, clearly indicating what will work best to tackle this health emergency.”
Exeter Green Party has been running a campaign on air quality with a petition calling for both Devon and Exeter Councils to take bold, joined up and urgent action on air quality.