By Liz Batten and Mandi B
Today saw the launch of a new campaign group – Clean Air Southampton – which aims to improve the quality of air in our city. This comes in the wake of the recent report by the Royal College of Physicians, which states that air pollution is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, and costs the taxpayer £20bn.
Although air pollution in Southampton comes from many different sources, including the port, one key area of emissions is road transport. This became the focus of the Clean Air Southampton launch today, with the team taking a special van loaded with monitoring equipment on a tour of the streets of the city. Starting in Bursledon during the morning rush hour, this ‘smogmobile’ travelled via Thornhill, Bitterne Road West, over Cobden Bridge and into Portswood. Continuing on through Bevois Valley, it was driven along key thoroughfares such as The Avenue, Hill Lane, Winchester Road and Shirley High Street.
The air pollution hotspots in the West of the city were explored in the afternoon – from the Old Town towards Romsey Road and the Lordshill roundabout, via Nursling, Redbridge and Millbrook. It took a final loop of the city via Southampton Central station, exiting on the A33, M271 and M27 and kept on monitoring until reaching Winchester.
At lunchtime the van was parked up in front of West Quay where Liz Batten and Colin MacQueen, the co-founders of our local clean air movement, were able to talk to the media and members of the public about their campaign.
“I’m very concerned at the readings obtained whilst the ‘smogmobile’ was touring the city,” says co-founder Liz Batten. “As well as drivers being stuck in rush hour traffic, I could see children and their parents walking alongside the rush hour traffic to school, people jogging and breathing in deeply the pollution we were monitoring. There are health effects for all of us from air pollution generated by diesel engines. We need a plan to clean up the air in our city.”
The video by BBC South Today on the launch and air quality in Southampton can be found here. A blogpost on the launch, together with video interviews, can also be found on the Bitterne Park news site.
Enviro Technology Services, which owns the air quality monitoring vehicle, will provide the team with a written report of its findings within the next couple of days. We hope to publish the findings here next week – watch this space!
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