'Medway's Air Quality Needs Urgent Action' say Liberal Democrats on World Health Day - 7th April
By Medway Liberal Democrats - Alan Wells
Liberal Democrats are supporting World Health Day on 7th April, and this year's theme is "protecting health from climate change".
Chatham was named in a report last year as one of the worst areas in the country for air quality "exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates " - Centre for Cities findings.
We believe that an understanding of the potential future impacts of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers is crucial for our towns' future prosperity, environmental quality, and health and well-being.
We have been consistent in calling on the Council to play a leadership role by adopting policies which are in line with our local environment, and by investing in infrastructure that will improve the air quality and health of Medway residents. Given electric and low emissions vehicles are key in tackling air pollution, the Council has failed to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points around Medway. The Council should ensure that locations such as public car parks and supermarkets, new developments and large-scale regeneration schemes include electric car charging facilities.
Electric buses can play a major part in reducing air pollution, and the Council should fast track the procurement of pure electric buses to transform Medway's bus fleet. Promote its existing Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) by encouraging people to use public transport and provide incentives with cheaper fares, a greater frequency of services, more twilight bus services, quicker journey times and promoting eco-driving and car sharing.
Alan Wells, spokesperson for Medway Liberal Democrats said, "As Medway faces new developments, action should be taken by the Council to develop an understanding of air quality around our towns' and by reviewing and upgrading its air quality monitoring network to reflect growth. The Council has an obligation in managing our towns' air quality, by minimising carbon emissions and where necessary extending coverage of monitoring to include more potential pollution hotspots around our region.
The Council's response lacks urgency, considering it has already declared a climate change emergency, admitting that its previous targets were inadequate. We have an air quality management area running right through the centre of Medway all along the A2 from Strood to Hoath Way, with extensions along Luton Road and between Cuxton Hill and Frindsbury, another running from the Lower Lines to Danes Hill and another running the length of Rainham High Street. There is also an air quality management area on 4 Elms Hill, Chattenden, which despite being declared in 2017, does not have a management plan. This is a huge area of the centre of Medway where people are suffering poor air quality and the Council is clearly dragging its heels.
Unless there is urgent action in reducing emissions, our towns' air quality will worsen and the health of future generations will suffer. We are calling for a local development plan that will invest in our local health, people deserve better, and Liberal Democrats demand better."