Council must take holistic approach to air pollution

Lidl’s scored a victory but it’s a big loss for industry

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It will come as no surprise to anyone who walks, cycles or drives along London Road in Portsmouth, that the air pollution levels in that vital arterial route are not good enough.

It’s almost always clogged up with cars, buses and lorries belching out fumes as they queue at the many traffic lights along the route.

In short, breathing in the air along London Road is deeply unpleasant – and so it’s good that the subject is being discussed in the civic offices.

However, when he says ‘limits on what can be achieved’ when talking about car emissions, it seems almost as if Councillor Rob New is putting his hands up and saying: ‘Yes, we know it’s bad. But there’s not much we can do about it.’

Actually, there is.

It’s an example of why the car culture in Portsmouth cannot continue as it is at the moment.

The idea that individuals get in their cars, alone, and drive to work is outdated – and is paralysing our roads and our city.

It needs to be looked at holistically.

Investment is needed in making cycling safer and more practical from wherever you are in the city (and outside) – not just down the outer flanks of Portsea Island.

Cycling in Portsmouth should be a more pleasant experience.

Easy and safe walking routes need to be promoted.

Buses and trains must be reliable – and comfortable.

People should be encouraged to get out of their cars and into public transport.

But there are wider issues at play here.

We’re talking about health. Even walking to a bus stop or a train station provides a bit of cardio, while it should be everyone’s right to breathe in clean air.

There is so much the council can do here.

But it requires investment and commitment.

Let’s hope they are willing to throw both at this – and lead from the front in helping to clean up our city.