Since 2003, Kingston Council has had to develop an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), setting out the measures it intends to put in place in pursuit of National Air Quality Objectives. In several locations in the borough, primarily close to busy roads, Kingston Council is exceeding safe limits set in the National Air Quality Objectives for both Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate matter.
Councillor Hilary Gander, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment said,
“Unfortunately, in some places our air quality is not good enough and this poses a potentially harmful risk to the health of Borough residents.”
Last autumn, the Conservative Administration launched their consultation on a revised AQAP which will be discussed at the Adults and Children’s Committee on Wednesday. Kingston Lib Dems submitted a detailed response to the document, making the case for additional significant actions to be taken.
Kingston Liberal Democrats suggested a raft of suggestions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of local air pollution, including:
- improving bus priority to make this mode of transport more attractive and tempt more people away from their cars
- accelerating the adoption of low emission buses in the borough
- safe routes for bikes, building on the Mini-Hollands (‘Go Developments’) schemes, to encourage people to use this non-polluting mode of transport
- discouraging idling vehicles at the kerbside
- Plan more tree planting because of the trees' capacity to remove air pollution
Councillor Hilary Gander explained,
“We felt the Conservative Council's original plan did not go far enough. Instead of only aiming not to worsen air pollution, we endeavoured to make the air we breathe cleaner.
I am pleased our work has been incorporated into the Council's revised AQAP document.”
Kingston Liberal Democrats think Kingston's AQAP could be extended to reflect the impact of new property developments:
- Ensure decisions on planning applications, especially regarding children's facilities and schools should take account of local air quality levels (this will be more easy to achieve if we have more monitoring stations).
- Arrange that planning for high-rise developments includes investigations into how the high rise buildings trap particulate matter, which is particularly harmful to children.
- Air quality measurement carried out by independent contractors as a compulsory part of planning consent.
- Where new builds do have to happen in polluted areas, enforce more rigorous air quality mitigations in the planning system (air filters etc.)
- Any developments at known pollution hotspots, such as those around Tolworth roundabout (Tolworth Towers site, Former MoD site, Lidl's HQ, Premier Inn), will significantly add to air pollution on A3 and A240. Contribution towards improving public transport facilities, cycle parking (and see above for cycle routes) and planting trees should be encouraged through the planning system.
- Similarly, Crossrail 2, whilst in many ways a contributor to reducing emissions, is likely to attract more vehicles carrying people who want to access the new improved service, particularly from Surrey on to the A243, where pollution is already high. We should start to plan how to integrate Crossrail 2 with sustainable travel and to mitigate additional emissions.
- The Lib Dems are also proposing to introduce more 20mph zones – a scheme will go out to consultation later in the year in Surbiton - which will encourage more people to walk and cycle and in turn ease congestion and reduce air pollution. And increase safety.
Councillor Hilary Gander continued,
“I think it’s important that people know about the issues. I am glad to see the new AQAP plans to make information available to residents, but we would like to go even further.
We should be installing many more monitoring stations, for example in school playgrounds near busy roads, and encouraging ‘Citizen Science’ projects, where residents are involved in monitoring pollution hotspots.”