Air Pollution in Medway – Response to Medway Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (2015)

Please find below a response to Medway Council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan (2015) prepared by Medway Green Party secretary, John Little. This was out to consultation until the end of August. The document prepared by Medway Council highlighted that air pollution is a major issue within the UK, which reduces life expectancy by an average of 7-8 months with estimated equivalent health costs of up to £20 billion each year.

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The Green Party welcome the Council’s Action plan. However, while it does touch on the main issues,  Medway Greens believe far more could be done to address air pollution. These include the following measures:-

1) Promote a Switch from car use to Public Transport

(i) We would encourage the Council to divert funding from roads to public transport and cycle routes. The Council’s action plan includes road improvements on the assumption that that this will speed the flow of traffic and so reduce pollution. As Greens our concern is that this investment may simply increase the overall volume of road traffic. A more effective approach may be to use these funds to  enhance public transport and cycle routes.

(ii) While we welcome the Council’s commitment to promote public transport, this does appear at odds with the recent cuts in bus services. The Green Party would encourage the Council to liaise with the bus company to seek to reverse these cuts. Ideally the Council and the bus companies should consult with passangers on routes and their frequency. A further issue is the high cost of fares for non subsidised passengers

(iii) Another area for potential improvement is to ensure integration between bus timetables and train services.

2) Reduce the Amount of Freight on the Roads

The Medway Green party would seek to reduce the amount of freight carried by road. Where practical the Council should encourage a transfer of freight from roads onto the rail network. In addition the Council should promote local sourcing of goods and services. This would not only be more environmentally friendly but would also benefit the local economy.

3) Cycle Network

The Medway Greens welcome the Council’s commitment to improve the cycle network. Cycling could replace a number of short car journeys and also has positive benefits for health and fitness.Our concern is that the existing network is rather fragmented. We would support a comprehensive and dedicated cycle route throughout the Medway towns, which provides cyclists with their own space separated from other road traffic and pedestrians.

4) Walking

The Green Party would encourage the Council to review the main pedestrian routes in Medway. Pedestrians often have to share pavements with parked cars and cycles, which may cause problems for the non able bodied or parents with push chairs or prams. It is also important to confirm that there are sufficient crossing points. Many of the immediate pedestrian routes around rail stations are particularly poor. Improvements to these routes and possible extension of pedestrian areas in town centres may encourage more people to leave their cars at home .

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