Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pollution Solution in Brighton and Hove

A recent report in the Brighton Argus revealed that the council could be slapped for millions of pounds in fines because air pollution hotspots in the city haven’t improved over a ten year period. Because of traffic fumes. The bad news for Brighton and Hove is that this could happen in 2013 when European Union rules start forcing cities to meet safety guidelines: 46 out of 63 locations in the city apparently have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, which exacerbates heart and lung conditions and can shorten life expectancy. Some locations, like the Vogue Gyratory and Lewes Road, had nearly double the 40 microgrammes/metre3 EU limit, as the following figures show:

Areas in the city with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in 2011

Middle of North Street – 79 microgrammes per cubic metre
Viaduct Terrace, Viaduct Road – 70.9
Lower North Street – 65.9
Lewes Road, south of Vogue Gyratory – 65.5
Oxford Street, near London Road – 65.4
Marlborough Place – 61.5
New England Road, near Argyle Road – 58
Western Road, west of Churchill Square – 57.7
Queens Road, north of the Clock Tower – 55.8
East Old Shoreham Road – 54.4


So, what’s to do? This isn’t a hypothetical, it’s for real. So here’s an idea. How about telling the locals what’s going on, spelling out the mega fines which could be heading our way, and, in the best democratic tradition, giving people a choice of which option they’d prefer. Here are some suggestions:
  • Do Nothing: Pay the fines, cut other services – like support for vulnerable people, cutting library opening times, reducing rubbish collection.
  • Introduce bans on odd and even number plates on alternate days, as has happened in Rome (when this was tried in Athens, apparently loads of drivers went out and bought another car, with the other number plate.
  • Introduce a Low Emission Zone that would ban high pollution vehicles from the affected areas.
  • Introduce a congestion charge for Brighton and Hove
  • Support more schemes that encourage modal shift and active travel, including increasing walking, cycling and buses, to reduce pollution

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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