Air Quality / cycling / Get involved!

Together in electric dreams

Lightbulb moment
Zero emission vehicles will be in the limelight on 15th June as part of the first National Clean Air Day being celebrated in the city. The bright sparks at The Environment Centre, Transition Southampton and Southampton City Council will be organising activities around the Bargate to raise awareness of pollution-free transport and ways to improve air quality. There will be stalls in four locations in the City – more details to be announced soon.

National Clean Air Day - Global Action Plan

Image: Global Action Plan

It would also be great to have a Southampton version of this iconic set of images, showing how much space is taken up by 72 people on bikes, in cars or on a bus. Cars alone produce almost a quarter of the dirty air that we breathe, clogging up both our lungs and our roads – can we make the switch to cleaner air and safer streets?

Muenster1991BusBicycleCar - Press Office, City of Muenster, Germany

Image: (1991) Press Office, City of Münster, Germany

Get involved!
The One Show (BBC One) will be filming in Mayflower Park on Monday 3rd April on the subject of cruise ships and air pollution. If you’d like to take part, and share your views on air quality in the port, please let the Clean Air Southampton team know!

You can also take part in a citizen science project to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide around the country. Order a Clean Air Kit from Friends of the Earth who are collecting nationwide data on this type of air pollution. How clean is the air where you are?

The best laid plans …
We waded through carefully read hundreds of pages of government policy, technical data and development plans in order to respond to various consultations relating to air pollution. We discovered that the Port of Southampton is intent on significant growth but has not considered the resulting impact on air quality; we heavily criticised the Government’s piecemeal plan for Clean Air Zones; and we threw a multitude of questions at Highways England about their scheme to improve congestion on a major route to the port.

The big picture is hard to grasp – how do all these plans and policies interact? Can economic growth sit alongside the council’s new strategy for cleaner air and Cycling Plan? And crucially, how can we know if air quality is improving if it’s not being properly measured in the first place?

The powers that be
Maybe the answers will all be found in the revised Air Quality Plan for the UK, due to be published in April. The Government has already lost two court cases over its failure to tackle air pollution which has galvanised four select committees to set up a joint inquiry into air quality. The deadline for submissions is 12th May, which also happens to be the date of the second reading of the Clean Air Bill.

Air pollution map April 2014 - Met Office

Image: Met Office

Are you alert to #dirtyair?
If you use air quality alerts or have an interest in them please respond to this short survey by the Met Office on air pollution forecasts. We need to be better informed about the effects of air pollution episodes on our health. In this respect we’ve been wondering why Public Health Southampton doesn’t provide online advice or information on air quality. The latest annual report doesn’t breathe a word on the topic despite it focusing on the first 1,000 days of life. Young children are considered to be particularly vulnerable to air pollution – should parents heed the warnings to put covers over babies in buggies or not?

We have recently updated the air quality section on this website, making articles and resources on clean air much easier to find. If you have suggestions of reports for us to review, new research to consider or would simply like to join the team, please do get in touch.

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