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WC strains to produce an Air Quality Strategy

April 14, 2019 2:49 PM
By Trevor Carbin

The British Government keeps failing to meet air quality targets and has been taken to court on a number of occasions by the EU. Of course if we leave the EU we'll be able to be as filthy as we like without anyone telling us otherwise. Wiltshire Council also has been trying to clean up its air, and is considering an updated Strategy.

Nationally it's been estimated that air pollution causes 40,000 deaths per year at a cost to health services and business of £20 billion.

Wiltshire is 1% of the UK so we can translate that as 400 deaths and a cost of £200,000. Those numbers may be pessimistic as we're probably not as badly contaminated as some places.

City dwellers suffer most - they had their brains eaten by lead pollution before we switched to unleaded fuel, and now their lungs are being attacked by diesel and other traffic pollutants.

Wiltshire Council is proud of what it's done so far. That comprises:

- producing a website, with data on it.

- having a text messaging service to warn people.

- setting up community groups to discuss pollution.

- having a plan.

- having planning guidance and a policy.

- giving advice to sick people. (The advice is "Stay indoors")

You'll have noticed that these are all reactions to the existing situation - WC has not considered the possibility of actually doing something about air pollution, because that would be difficult. This may have to change in future. The government, which has its own difficulties, is likely to pass the problem to local authorities. WC has noticed that the only things which could make a difference would be reducing the use of private cars and increasing use of public transport. This is difficult for WC, which is currently supporting road-building and more private car use, whilst driving buses of the roads by cutting services and reducing subsidies. Similarly WC is willing to support the provision of cycle tracks in theory, but not in practice. This is because theory is free, but practice isn't.

You can see the full draft strategy in the Environment Committee Agenda, item 8