LOCAL NEWS: How are we doing on clean air?

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Last month saw ‘Clear Air Day’ which inspired us to look into just how clean our air is in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area.

Some local lobby groups and councillors have recently pressed for BCP Council to announce a climate emergency.

Those pushing most heavily were East Dorset Friends of the Earth and our two Green Councillors, Chris Rigby and Simon Bull.

The calls came after the actions – or supposed lack thereof – of the three previous councils – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Dorset Council have already declared a climate emergency.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment said: “The crucial need to tackle climate change is something that we can all agree on.

“It is an issue which transcends party politics and after discussions with the other group leaders we have agreed on the need to create a cross-party Panel on Climate Change to develop a policy for Dorset Council.”

90 councils around the UK have called Climate Emergencies.

More often than not this gives councillors the chance to create a non-binding set of policies on climate strategy.

Local areas of concern

Previous to the merging of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, the A338 was highlighted as an area of improvement by both Bournemouth and Christchurch Councils.

The previous Bournemouth Borough Council administration predicted that the road would be within acceptable limits for air quality by 2021, or 2019 if a tighter set of restrictions were followed.

It is suggested that the completion of the A338 Blackwater works will usher in an improvement in air quality due to improved traffic flow.

Poole Borough Council also previously highlighted Commercial Road and Ashley Road as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA).

Since establishing these AQMAs air quality along all of the roads has improved.

The improvements have been brought about through traffic management strategies, on Ashley Road a number of plans have been implemented, including:

  • Reclaiming road space for pedestrians
  • Prioritising cleaner modes of transport such as buses and bicycles
  • Introducing a high-vehicle occupancy lane – for carpoolers 

All of these had the effect of improving traffic flow through Ashley Road onto Commercial Road, reducing idling time which in turn enhances air quality. 

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “On the basis of the evidence provided by the local authority, the conclusions reached are acceptable for all sources and pollutants.”

Due to the recent creation of BCP Council their air strategy plans are unknown, however judging by the most recent reports from the preceding Councils there are reasons to be positive.

In an interview with BHLiving, BCP Council Leader, Vikki Slade said that they remained committed to calling a climate emergency in the conurbation.

What can you do to help?

Air quality might seem like an enormous issue that can only be faced by faceless multinationals and governments but there are a few things you can do to help, however small.

  1. Drive less – you can either cut out car journeys all together by cycling, taking public transport or walking to work or you could carpool with people from work – if you both go in the same car not only are you helping the planet but you’re also reducing traffic. 
  2. Conserve energy – using less energy means that less needs to be produced, helping the planet a little.
  3. Seal chemical containers – whether this is bleach, weedkiller or any other chemical found in the house or in the garden seal the top. This stops bad chemicals from seeping out and polluting the air. 
  4. CAMPAIGN – you can do a little on your own but if you really want things to change campaign to the Council or to the government to improve their environment strategy.

Click on the links to see the most recent air quality reports from Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

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