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'Children in Medway need clean air' - say Medway Liberal Democrats

October 2, 2021 7:55 PM
By Stuart Bourne/Alan Wells Medway Liberal Democrats

Think GlobalMedway Liberal Democrats have long campaigned on environmental issues which affect our towns and we want to stay active on this issue, this is why we have decided to launch an environmental campaign for Medway to raise awareness of environmental concerns that affect our towns. This also coincides with our national 5 point green recovery plan.

Our campaign will focus on our own Medway 5 point Green Recovery plan

Local 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.

Clean Air for Children:

This is why we are calling for cleaner air for children, 1 - 4 children in the UK attend schools that in areas that regular break air pollution limits, with many of schools right here in included. With air pollution linked to increases in childhood asthma and breathing disorders, a child in Medway should not have to risk their lives to attend school.

Yet it does not have to be this way

The Liberal Democrats are proposing a £20 billion clean air fund that we allow councils to create safe walking and cycle routes for our children, Medway Liberal Democrats would assess each school in Medway on whether their street could be closed during the school run, encouraging more parents to walk their children to school and allowing a safer walk to school for others.

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. 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, and Four Elms Hill, Chattenden. 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.

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.

Unless there is urgent action in reducing emissions, our towns' air quality will worsen and the health of future generations will suffer. 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, and the fallout from Brexit with the lack of delivery drivers is 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.

Over the past year, public interest in the environment has increased. According to YouGov's 'Most important issue facing the country' tracker, the percentage of people citing the Environment as the most important issue facing the country has increased from 23% in September 2020 to 33% in September 2021. We want to highlight that Medway's environment is local but is is also connected to the global, Medway deserve better, and Liberal Democrats demand better.

ENDS