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 – with one estimate put at £400m.
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.
Winnington: Air pollution “a potential killer”
At a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday (25th June) Councillor Matthew Winnington, head of health, said:
“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.”
Ashmore: Addressing life expectancy in low income areas
Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for environment and climate change, added:
“People in low-income areas across the city have a life expectancy ten years lower than in wealthier neighbourhoods. Hopefully tackling air quality will help to address this issue.”
Traffic pollution the biggest contributor
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.
Controversial Clean Air Zone
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.
Sanders: Need to control housing targets
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 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.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed