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Wednesday, 14th Jan 2015

Greens demand retention of pollution monitoring sites

The Green Party is demanding the retention of air pollution monitoring sites in Bristol. This follows a DEFRA consultation which campaigners fear may lead to the loss of such sites. Organisations - such as 'Clean Air in London' have pointed out that 'DEFRAs plans would result inevitably in the scrapping of thousands of local monitoring sites'.  Greens regard adequate monitoring as a vital part of fighting the devastating effect that air pollution causes.

In 2014, Bristol City Council commissioned a report to examine the impact of air quality on the health of people in Bristol. The report concludes that an additional 188 deaths of Bristol residents (over the age of 30) were attributable to air pollution in 2010, with 24 of these attributable to local road traffic emissions. This compares to an average of 9 people killed each year in road traffic collisions on roads in Bristol. There were also 52 respiratory hospital admissions and 42 cardiovascular hospital admissions attributable to air pollution in Bristol. The cost of these health effects attributable to air pollution in Bristol is calculated to be £83 million per year (at 2013 prices).

According to the consultation, DEFRA is planning to ‘refocus’ Local Air Quality Management’ away from monitoring towards reducing air pollution. Superficially, this may sound like a good thing, but in practice, it is vital to carry out adequate levels of monitoring. We need to know how bad the pollution is and where it is in order to remedy it. It is not either-or, but both.

Councillor Charlie Bolton said

"Air pollution leads to at least 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK  and possibly many more. In Bristol it is estimated that nearly 200 people died (in 2010).  It causes heart attacks, strokes, cancer and worsens a wide range of respiratory diseases. n order to be able to effectively address it, a basic thing we need to do is monitor it properly".

Darren Hall, the Green Party’s candidate for Bristol West said: ‘Businesses often say ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. We have rigorous tests to make sure we can drink clean water, and we have to be just as sure the air we breathe is safe as well. Relaxing standards on air quality makes it even more of an invisible issue. It is an underhand way of achieving short term savings, but at the expense of long term costs to the NHS. We all have a right to clean air.”

Deb Joffe, who is widely tipped to take Windmill Hill for the Greens in the next election – and is also a former nurse & midwife said:

"Air pollution poses considerable risks to children, especially those with existing lung disease, which can include those born prematurely. There is also some evidence that pregnant women are affected and those living in areas of high pollution are more likely to have low birth weight babies."

Greens have submitted a motion to Bristol City Council asking the mayor to oppose the possible loss of sites. While it is unlikely to be taken, it is part of an on-going Green campaign to improve air quality in the city of Bristol. Greens are urging the mayor to oppose any loss of air quality monitoring stations, and for adequate funding to be maintained on this vital issue.

[UPDATE]
Greens welcome the additional support for air pollution monitoring, as agreed by mayor Ferguson at last nights cabinet meeting. Given that it is one-off funding, Greens will be seeking advice on how long this funding will last. 

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