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Our Air! Our Commitment! Our Towns! - Liberal Democrats campaign to improve Medway's Air Quality

November 19, 2020 9:52 AM
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells

medway sunsetLocal Liberal Democrats believe that we can no longer ignore the reality, that Medway is no longer free from dirty air. We feel that air pollution must be tackled now, not only to save our environment but to save lives. A report produced by the Centre for Cities found that 1 in 16 deaths in Chatham "are exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates." Nationally, Liberal Democrats are calling for World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter to be adopted into UK law, and met by 2030.

We believe that there are measures Medway Council could take now, to improve our town's air quality, with initiatives, such as embarking on an extensive tree planting programme. Trees are vital in tackling air pollution, and allowing green spaces to come together. A recent tree survey by Forest Research has highlighted the fact 'that the areas with the poorest air quality and poorest levels of health also have the lowest levels of tree cover in Medway', and in these challenging times help both physical and mental wellbeing.

The Council should encourage people out of vehicles on their daily commute, and diesel car use discouraged, while ensuring those who cannot walk or cycle have alternative clean modes of transport available.

We have previously stressed that Medway's bus fleet must go electric as soon as possible. Buses can play a major part in reducing air pollution by giving alternatives to driving and the Council could provide incentives with cheaper fares, a greater frequency of services, more twilight bus services, quicker journey times and promoting eco-driving and car sharing. While ensuring that Medway's rural communities have access to good quality, reliable public transport.

We have also called on the Council to invest in more electric vehicle charging points around our towns. We believe the Council could introduce low traffic and traffic free neighbourhoods in consultation with residents and local businesses,

Vivienne Parker, Chairperson for Medway Liberal Democrats said, "Liberal Democrats have consistently called on the Council to play a leadership role by adopting sensible, coherent planning policies which are in line with our local environment. It should not take a pandemic and large parts of our towns' economy being shut down for us to breathe clean air. We now have an opportunity, while our towns have seen air quality improvement by the response to Covid-19, to design a Medway that is better equipped to address these challenges.

Medway should lead the way in tackling air pollution, the creation of new, green jobs, at a time when a public health crisis and the fallout from Brexit are changing how our economy works. Liberal Democrats demand better and findings such as contained in the 'Centre for Cities' report need to be addressed as rapidly as possible to remedy the situation. We are calling for a local development plan that will invest in our local health, and in infrastructure that will improve the air quality around our towns."

ENDS

Additional Information for Editors:

Plants are involved in the uptake, transport and assimilation (or, in some cases, decomposition) of many gaseous or particulate pollutants. Therefore trees and vegetation can play an important role in influencing urban air quality, and in mediating some of the negative effects of pollutants. Vegetation also removes from the atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO2) - the main greenhouse gas associated with climate change. https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/research/