The city council’s action plan to deal with Canterbury’s air quality is evidence that the authority is finally waking up to the problem, says a prominent councillor.
Nick Eden-Green told the Canterbury Journal that he welcomes the myriad measures being proposed by the council to reduce pollution and congestion.
But the Lib Dem fears that with a multi-storey car park planned for Station Road West and more than 10,000 new houses to be built, the city’s air quality issues will persist long into the future.
He said: “The time that the council’s release on air quality went out is interesting. It is probably the most detailed and the longest press release ever sent out by Canterbury.
“Clearly the council is at last waking up to the problem. Whatever the gloss, this press release acknowledges that Canterbury has a problem and that it’s getting worse.”
The council is proposing to extend its Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) which covers the worst affected streets such as St Dunstan’s, Military Road, Sturry Road, Wincheap, Station Road West and much of the Ring Road.
It is also considering fining drivers who let their engines idle outside schools or level crossings when the traffic is stationary and they have been asked to turn them off.
But Cllr Eden-Green, who represents Wincheap, fears that the future is still bleak because of the impending house building programme and the decision to press ahead with the three-floor multi-storey car park at Station Road West – despite opposition.
Clean air campaigners argue that the structure and the thousands of new homes will worsen congestion and air quality because they will introduce extra traffic movements around the city.
Cllr Eden-Green went on: “The council suggests matters will not significantly worsen within the AQMA areas before 2025. Great.
“But relatively few of the 11,000 new houses being proposed for the south, east and west of Canterbury will have been built by then.
“However, it says nothing about 2031 which is the Local Plan period and most of the houses will be built towards the end of the plan.
“I welcome many of the measures being considered, some of which I, and others, have been suggesting for years.
“However, one has to question whether they will be enough to address the underlying problem. But at least there is at last official recognition that traffic pollution is injurious to health and needs to be addressed.”
The council’s policy and resources committee will meet in the Guildhall at 7pm on Tuesday, April 18, to discuss the authority’s air quality plan.