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We need ambitious action on air quality

Today at a meeting of Gloucestershire County Council Environment Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Rachel Smith called for stronger measures to address air quality. Cllr Smith rejected the final recommendations of the Air Pollution Task Group as too limited, noting that they ignore key evidence presented to the group that shows we need to rethink transport infrastructure investment, rather than tinker at the edges.

Evidence presented to the task group shows the most effective, and cost effective, methods to address air quality involve:

  • Smoothing traffic flows through speed reductions;
  • Separate cycle routes from motor traffic, and reducing the time spent by cyclists in areas of high pollution; and
  • Provide a choice of cycle routes including routes avoiding highly polluted roads

By contrast, bypass construction, and ad-hoc traffic schemes are shown to be neither effective, nor cost effective, in reducing air pollution. Yet Conservative controlled Gloucestershire County Council continues to pursue a road-widening and road-building agenda.

Commenting on her decision not to support the Air Pollution Task Group report Cllr Smith (Green, Minchinhampton) said “Nobody wants to breathe filthy air which is why I wanted ambitious actions included in this report. Whilst there are a number of good recommendations in this report, it ultimately does not go far enough. The task group had the opportunity to set clear targets, providing an ambitious agenda, and following the evidence. However, this report leaves the door open to road-building schemes that will increase, not address, air pollution, and lacks targets by which it’s impact could be measured.”

Environment Scrutiny Committee voted 7-1 to recommend the Air Pollution Task Group report to the County Council cabinet, who will consider the recommendations on Wednesday 6th June. Cllr Smith will continue to push for a stronger commitments to be made.

Notes:

The final report of the Air Pollultion Task Group, and the evidence presented in a Review of Air Quality and Health in Gloucestershire, are available here.

Cllr Smith’s proposed changes are here.

Table from the Review of Air Quality and Health in Gloucestershire

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