Clean air campaigners are mounting an aggressive effort to improve the Canterbury environment.
With the backing of the city’s MP Rosie Duffield, campaign group Clean Air met at the Friend’s Meeting Hall yesterday (Saturday) to discuss air quality issues.
Prof Stephen Peckham, from the University of Kent’s Centre for Health Services Studies, told around 100 concerned residents that the time to act is now.
“This is a very polluted area,” Prof Peckham said.
“Our remit will be to campaign to reduce the levels of air pollution in the city.”
Dr Peckham is particularly concerned that Canterbury City Council has plans afoot to build a multi-storey car park with nearly 400 spaces.
He urged people to sign a petition against the development, which is still in the planning phase.
“The more signatures the council receives, the more the council will have to listen.
“The consultation on it is over – nevertheless most people are against it.
“They are against the principle of encouraging drivers to come into what is already a very polluted area.
“We need to be thinking about what we can do ourselves to reduce pollution and create cleaner air for Canterbury.
“Today is about getting momentum for the campaign going.”
Later this year, the council is scheduled to publish its Air Quality Action Plan which will deal with ways residents and the authority can improve the city’s environment.
Saturday’s audience were also treated to a scientific lecture by Timothy Baker, the principal air quality analyst at King’s College in London.
He told them calling the campaign “every breath we take” was appropriate given that people walking the streets of Canterbury breath in pollutants every time.
He said: “After smoking, air pollution carries the highest risk factor in terms of shortening your life.
“Pollutants you breathe in make it into blood system. One simple thing you can do is use back roads rather than major routes when you are walking.”
Clean Air Canterbury will be holding further events and is asking people to support it.