Letter: Pollution on the Medina

On The Wight reader questions whether the Isle of Wight council have done enough to protect residents from the risk of ‘pollution generating projects’ on the River Medina.

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one from Tony Cawley questions the actions of the Isle of Wight council over proposed asphalt and biomass plants. Ed

The Isle of Wight has a very high rate of asthma and COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), about one third higher than the national average.

These figures are based on Freedom of Information data from St. Mary’s Hospital and figures published by the IOW’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2011.

The public want answers
Given that these illnesses can be largely attributed to air purity, the public are entitled to ask why the Isle of Wight Council is not taking a robust stand against the introduction of what I consider to be pollution generating projects along the Medina River.

These include the Eurovia asphalt plant and road stone recycling plant, the proposed biomass incinerators for a power station and a biomass grain drying plant.

Now we learn that a further source of air pollution is proposed in the form of a digestion plant creating and burning methane gas; surplus gas would be burned off with an open flame. (Anyone old enough to remember the Fawley Flame and the appalling emissions connected with that?)

Fine particulates found to affect human health
All these plants will emit fine particulates which can carry very long distances and remain airborne. They have been proven to cause not only respiratory diseases, but also increase mortality rates particularly amongst the very old and very young.

They enter deeply into the lungs and can carry associated chemicals into the bloodstream – it is thought that they may be able to cross the brain blood barrier to have a direct affect on the functioning of the brain.

The World Health Organisation and our own UK COMEAP (Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants) have clearly stated that there is no level at which this pollution does not affect human health.

COMEAP have even published research statistics directly relating increases in fine particulates to increases in mortality, (the figures are available on the COMEAP website). The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) states that any potentially polluting project should be considered from the point of view of its cumulative local effect on air purity.

Why are council ignoring this?
One has to ask if the IOW Council has chosen to ignore this. They apparently have never actually measured air quality in the area concerned, so arriving at a cumulative figure may be quite challenging.

Since the Council have the oversight of all these projects, it must surely be their responsibility to realistically review the cumulative effect of all these subsidy seeking projects on Cowes and the other nearby areas.

Prevailing winds will carry all these damaging fine particulates down to a heavily populated area.

Time for a clear explanation from council
In the event that this letter is published, will this information be dismissed once again as “scaremongering”?

It is time we had a clear explanation from the Council leaders explaining their policy on air purity and how they intend to deal with EU regulations limiting the emission of fine particulates and the clear clinical warnings from authoritative sources such as COMEAP.

They should be working to protect our interests and the long term health of future Island citizens.

Health effects of fine particulates

Image: Net Efekt under CC BY 2.0

Sunday, 18th November, 2012 11:38am


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Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Letter to the Editor

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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17 Comments on "Letter: Pollution on the Medina"

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Tanja Rebel
The suggested plants are all part of the intended re-industrialisation of the River Medina and they are not green for one iota. As this excellent letter so clearly sets out, they would cause significant air (and probably water) pollution with all the associated health risks. One can wonder why our rulers are so bent on destroying this sensitive eco-habitat, which after all is an area of Special… Read more »
random bloke
what kind of message are we sending by refusing to contribute to our own power generation? We want electricity so long as we dont have to put up with anything spoiling the air, the view or the water. We draw 600 GWh of power from the mainland every year. Why should areas of the mainland put up with pollution for the power we are using? Of course… Read more »

Chilling reading. Perhaps we should be fund-raising for legal advice & legal action?

Tanja Rebel
To Jon: You are right that we need to localise our energy production. However, when doing this we need to think carefully what and where: Large-scale biomass, which gets its fuel from abroad and which spouts out pollutants is not sustainable nor is it particularly frugal or environmental to build a new asphalt plant – along a riverside and near to residential area’s – when we already… Read more »
random bloke
so where exactly do you suggest on the island and off? Solar panels cover vast areas for little return. Tidal energy is a good alternative, but on an island surrounded by shipping lanes would be difficult to impliment, and even more difficult to maintain. Decentralisation is the key. Make it mandatory for every Island building to produce some of its own power through solar or wind –… Read more »
i suffer from copd, i know people around my area have different breathing problems, we live near the medina, the air is mostly clean, the only major problem is the rotting seaweed but our town council dont seem interested in that, these new plants WILL make a difference to the way we live, the particles WILL spread far and wide, the smells WILL pervade the area, i,… Read more »
random bloke

then whos back yard do you want them in? mine? someone elses? does it matter so long as its not yours?

James Luke
Any debate on whether to build one of these plants, and where to build it, will be hampered without real data. Throughout the Asphalt Planning Application discussion, Councillors have stated that they want to base their decision on facts. Unfortunately, these facts and real data are in short supply. I believe (I may be wrong here) that the Council are responsible for measuring air quality but have… Read more »

i would have thought, jon, that it was painfully obvious that i dont want them in anyones back yard but some people have such a chip they cant see past the first chance of retaliation

random bloke

Chip? Retaliation? get over yourself.

I was simply pointing out that they HAVE to be in someones back yard. So who’s do you suggest? Should the mainland continue to have our power generation plants in their back yard?

Nimbyism is selfish. As you say yourself, not in your back yard, but you have no idea where. Well they have to go somewhere.

Tanja Rebel
To Jon: The plants do not have to be in anyone’s backyard if we find good alternatives. Decentralisation of energy production is indeed a good idea and the sooner we do it the better: Put solar panels on every (well-insulated!) new-built house and provide generous subsidies for already existing houses (apart from listed buildings, we need to find alternatives there). These plants cost money to build, lets… Read more »
random bloke

you really dont get it do you. its not about alternatives, subsidy, pollution. its about money. companies want to make money. if you want to protect the environment, think of a way to change companies minds on profit.

downwind resident
This letter is thought provoking. It will be interesting to see how the IW Council Planning Committee deals with the Planning Application (TCP/16533)for the Biomass fired Grain Store Dryer in the Council Chamber on 27 November 2012. They may like to consider the latest data released by the NHS which underwrite the concerns which Mr Cawley has so clearly expressed in his letter. (web -link http://www.rightcare.nhs.uk/index.php/atlas/respiratorydisease/) It… Read more »

Recommended for Conditional Permission.


Has anybody investigated the ground heat source such as that enjoyed in Southampton (I believe).
I’m not an expert in fact I know nothing but somebody must know something.

Creating more air pollution in the Medina estuary, as my potty-mouthed gran would say, is when the sh%# gets real. The highest concentration of economic productivity/wealth is situated here, where much of the manufacturing base & technical expertise is found, it is where most off-island visitors go, it is home to two of the UK’s world class sailing events, but surprisingly few charity shops and some of… Read more »
James Luke

Lancaster University have just completed a study into the impact of biomass on air quality – worrying reading =>