Now that the Government has been forced by law to publish their Air Quality Plan for consultation and, with the ever increasing media publication of detrimental effects to the public from diesel exhaust emissions, the residents in Chichester are hopefully becoming more aware of the health risks given that the city has exceeded Government targets for air pollution in the three AQMAs (Air Quality Management Areas) in the Stockbridge, Orchard Street and St Pancras areas.
Exposure to fine particulates (PM2.5) is known to cause vascular damage triggering heart attacks and strokes with recent studies on PM2.5 indicating an increase in the risk of brain disorders such as dementia, Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s disease.
Much of the recent national press has focussed on the diesel car muted scrappage scheme and the introduction of more Clean Air Zones, both of which are longer term solutions.
We have a problem right now which will only get worse as a result of no acceptable solution to the A27 to separate local and through traffic.
This at the same time as housing developments are being approved, before road infrastructure is being put in place.
Together, both of these will exacerbate the rat runs we are seeing in the city, and of course increasing the public’s exposure to exhaust pollutants.
Much has been written and said about the A27, so despite Highways England statement that only an on-line option (ie modifications to the existing bypass) is deliverable, I would hope that WSCC and CDC challenge that position.
However, when I read the article in the Chichester Observer (May 4), re the traffic proposals to accommodate the building of the first 750 houses for Whitehouse Farm development, my heart sank.
I could hardly believe what I was reading, with the proposed traffic routing via Orchard Street, past Central Primary School.
This looks like another case of ignoring public health risks, as was the Option 2 for the A27 that CDC supported with 41 months of construction with the inevitable increase in air pollution in the city.
All of this despite CDC’s AQAM (Air Quality Action Plan) which documents that the dominant local component of air pollution is emissions from road traffic.
The Government Air Quality Consultation Plan, does state that Local Authorities will now be expected to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.
Let us hope that our councillors think beyond increased parking charges for diesel cars, or even worse encouraging central government to apply increased license fees for existing diesel car owners.
As a start, consider (a) a delay to White Church Farm until an access road is in place (b) insist that air quality is a prime consideration for the A27 WSCC initiative and put public health at the forefront.