Portsmouth City Council submit plans to improve air quality
PORTSMOUTH City Council has approved the submission of plans to improve air quality across the city but warned they will need sufficient funding to meet targets.
Within the Air Quality Annual Status Report the council has put together a series of proposed measures to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide with the report confirming that ‘levels in Portsmouth are a significant concern’.
Public Health England advised that long term exposure to air pollution can reduce life expectancy due to cardiovascular and lung disease.
Speaking at a special cabinet meeting yesterday (June 25) Councillor Matthew Winnington, head of health, commented: ‘Fundamentally air pollution could be lowering people’s life expectancy. It’s not only dangerous but a potential killer. This report needs to be taken extremely seriously.’
Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and climate change, added: ‘People in low income areas across the city have a life expectancy 10 years lower than in wealthier neighbourhoods. Hopefully tackling air quality will help to address this issue.’
The report identified traffic pollution as the biggest contributor to nitrogen dioxide levels and highlighted a number of ongoing and proposed measures to tackle the problem.
Strategies included route long cycle safety improvements on London Road, increased electric vehicle charging points, park and ride schemes and a bus retrofit programme to reduce exhaust emissions.
The most controversial measure which ‘may be introduced’ is a Clean Air Zone which would see older vehicles registered before 2006 or diesel vehicles registered before 2015 faced with a charge to enter the city.
However, councillors believed that whatever measures are put in place greater support is needed from the government.
Housing boss, Cllr Darren Sanders, added: ‘Four hundred million pounds of funding is needed. We also need to take control over the number of homes we are building rather than having targets imposed on us.’
Deputy council leader, Cllr Steve Pitt, said: ‘We need to be set appropriate targets for Portsmouth. We are an island city with only three roads on and off.’
The report will be submitted to The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ratify the proposed plans.