Getting people out of cars will be an '¨uphill battle

Given the geographic nature of Portsmouth and the high population density on the island, there is a depressing inevitability to the terrible air quality here.

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:39 am

As reported in The News back in February, Portsmouth has one of the worst air pollution levels in the UK, topping a list of 33 towns and cities outside London with the worst air quality levels.

The levels of pollutants are high enough to cause respiratory and lung problems.

So, news that Portsmouth City Council has been awarded half a million pounds to help tackle the excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, is obviously to be welcomed.

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And neighbouring Fareham Borough Council was also awarded £500,000 from the Joint Air Quality Unit in March to focus on pollution around the A27.

This new money will be used to encourage greener travel and will be used to target five problem areas in the city, including Eastern Road, the A3 as it enters the city and areas near the naval base and university. Some of it will also go to studies elsewhere in the city.

Whether this £450,000 from the government’s clean air fund and £50,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will make a difference, only time will tell.

But, ironically, given how flat Portsmouth is, they face an uphill battle in convincing people to give up their cars.

Giving advice and encouraging people to switch to pedal power or take public transport is all well and good.

However, there needs to be a real cultural shift.

While riding remains a perilous activity in certain areas, and bus routes remain under threat as subsidies are removed, the council will have a tough fight on its hands.

For all of our sakes though, maybe we should start by ditching the car one day a week.