Lib Dems are calling for Medway to have cleaner air on National Clean Air Day - 17th June
By medway liberal democrats - alan wells
The World Health Organisation recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. It causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children's lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.
Local Liberal Democrats are supporting 'Clean Air Day' on 17th June, which is the UK's largest air pollution campaign and the theme for 2021 campaign is 'protect our children's health from air pollution'.
We have campaigned vigorously on how pollution is affecting our towns. Chatham was named as one of the worst areas in the country for air quality, stating that one in 16 deaths in Chatham "are exclusively driven by combustion in commercial, institutional, and domestic activities linked to long-term exposure to particulates and linked to aggravating heart and lung conditions and causing cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, and respiratory effects such as asthma attacks and bronchitis." - Centre for Cities findings.
Liberal Democrats 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.
John Castle, Chair of Medway Liberal Democrats added "The lack of action is appalling, especially when we learn more about the huge health impact of air pollution. The Council's response lacks urgency, considering it has already declared a climate change emergency, admitting that its previous targets were inadequate.
It is our belief that children, and particularly those from low-income families, will be impacted by the turmoil the pandemic has caused for years to come. We all have a role to play in protecting our children's health from the damaging consequences of air pollution - so they can learn and play safely.
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 and Four Elms Hill, and another running from the Lower Lines to Danes Hill and another running the length of Rainham High Street. 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, just as the Government is anxious to reduce poor air quality post COVID by providing millions of pounds in grant funding.
Unless there is urgent action in reducing emissions, our town's air quality will worsen and the health of future generations will suffer. Action should start now to ensure that children around our towns are protected from dirty air as they learn and play.
We are calling for a local development plan that will invest in our local health, people deserve better, and Liberal Democrats demand better. "
Additional Notes for Editors: Clean Air Day 2021
Sustainability charity Global Action Plan today announces this year's Clean Air Day, the UK's largest clean air campaign will take place on Thursday 17th June. the theme for the campaign is 'protect our children's health from air pollution'.
Whilst air pollution is the UK's largest environmental health issue that impacts everyone, children are particularly vulnerable to its impacts. Exposure to poor air quality can damage the health of our children, stunting their lung development and limiting life expectancy for some. Air pollution also causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and may even contribute to mental health issues and children's ability to learn. It is therefore vital that they breathe clean air while at school, at home and outside.
2020 further saw children bear the burden of COVID-19, impacting their freedom, education and mental wellbeing. As our children return to their lives, we must ensure they go back to a safe and healthy environment where they can learn and play safely.