Campaigners escalate fight for clean air

Anita Wilson (56) from Waterlooville with her Grandson Alfie McHugh (3) who she had been looking after when he was taken ill in the Marks and Spencer store in Havant     Picture: Malcolm Wells (180617-4227)

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CAMPAIGNERS are taking their frustrations to Westminster over fears the council is not doing enough to reduce air pollution in the city.

Two members of the public have written to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) following concerns Portsmouth City Council had not properly compiled a report on air quality.

Following an environment and community service meeting this week the pair decided to take action.

Green party member Tracey McCulloch said: ‘We have contacted Defra with our findings.

‘The local council is at risk of fines if it does not comply. And obviously we are all at risk of worsening health if it does not. We want Defra to know they are not doing what they are meant to be doing.’

Mike Dobson from the Friends of Old Portsmouth Association added: ‘The council need to make sure the air quality annual status report is robust. However, several NO2 detector tubes in air pollution hot-spots such as Lord Montgomery Way are higher than the specified height so the tubes are under-reading the true level of pollution.

‘The combination of inaccurate measurement and flawed analysis has led the council to make the erroneous claim that one heavily-polluted area is now compliant with legal limits. The evidence says otherwise.

‘I do not want the council to get prosecuted for non-compliance but if it continues to fail to take robust action with the clock ticking towards 2022 it is likely it will be.’

However, the council was insistent its annual statement report was compliant.

A spokesperson said: ‘The guidance provided by Defra recommends that tubes are placed at a height of 2 metres to 4 metres above ground level, 2 metres being the minimum. The heights of the 2017 tubes are therefore within the guidance limits.’

Cllr Dave Ashmore, the council’s environment boss, said: ‘Our action plan, which will go out for public consultation in the autumn, will include projects such as new cycle training schemes, workplace journey planning and electric vehicle charge points.’

The council’s annual statement report was sent to Defra on June 29, and the council plan to have an air quality action plan put together by December 31.