The Louise Goldsmith initiative, Build a Better A27, presents an opportunity to establish a public health workshop that could provide an invaluable input to the community working together.
The growing awareness of the impact of air pollution is something that all residents, be it north, south, east or west would be united in, as an important factor in the determination of a proposed solution to the A27 congestion problems, the rat runs through the city and the increased traffic volumes emanating from the housing developments approved by Chichester District Council (CDC).
CDC, in its Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), refer to Public Health England, suggesting that 4.9 per cent of deaths in Chichester district are related to particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5).
Both nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates pollution are major contributors to pollution levels from diesel exhausts and the latter is able to travel deep into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs and even into the blood.
As a resident in the north of Chichester, and given CDC’s awareness of the public health risk from fine particle pollution, I could not get my mind around why its cabinet supported option 2 in the A27 consultation, which would have caused 41 months of mayhem, rat runs and arguably increased pollution level to residents.
It was heartening to find out that, due to public pressure, CDC changed its position and requested a rerun of the flawed Highways England consultation.
Now the cabinet has the opportunity to regain public confidence.
As Chichester does not have fine particulates data, I would hope that CDC immediately move towards implementation of particulates monitoring, so that facts on the levels of pollution will have an influence on the final proposals. I would hope that councillor Dignum, supported by his cabinet, act now by taking a leadership role and immediately prioritises funds to install PM2.5 monitoring as a major step towards protecting the health of our future generations.
This proactive initiative could well attract funding from other sources, and positions Chichester as a forward looking city.
I, like many other residents north and south of the A27, do not view Chris Grayling’s withdrawal of funds as a tragedy but rather see it as an opportunity for the good of Chichester city residents, health and environment.
Let us hope that we capitalise on the West Sussex County Council initiative and that the workshops put together a case of an acceptable solution that gets back the £250m, and a slice of the £690m announced in the budget for councils to compete for to resolve urban congestion.