Avoidable air pollution is killing an estimated 40,000 people every year in the UK. This equates to at least 62 Gravesham residents dying unnecessarily each year. The public health emergency also contributes to poor health in us all and is strongly linked to asthma in children. The EU sets legal limits of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution for our safety, but almost every region in the UK has illegally high levels. Gravesham Friends of the Earth measured illegally high levels in six out of nine test locations across the borough for January 2017, although the council’s own measures are somewhat lower averaged across the year.
The High Court ruled that the government’s lack of action to tackle air pollution was illegal and ordered them to come up with a new ‘Air pollution plan’. This was published last week. The new plan has been slammed by experts and critics as extremely weak. It has less detail than the original plan which was judged illegally inadequate. The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas said “The government is standing idly by while Britain chokes… We need a huge investment in public transport, serious taxation changes and a new Clean Air Act – but none of these are in the plan”.
The proposed Option C Lower Thames Crossing will increase the country’s traffic by at least 55,000 vehicles a day, increasing local pollution inevitably lead to more deaths in Gravesham. Gravesham Green Party are campaigning against any new crossing in favour of sustainable transport options. We urge local residents to stand up and demand real action on air pollution.by