Councillors and Labour Party members in Hampshire city launch campaign to keep air quality monitoring site open
Portsmouth Labour Party has launched a campaign to ensure that an air quality monitoring site at Gatscombe Park Primary School in the north of the city remains open.
The start of the campaign comes in the wake of the government’s consultation on plans to remove council obligations to monitor air pollution, under proposed amendments to the regulations in the Environment Act 1995, launched in July (see AirQualityNews story).
Currently, when a local authority finds an area in its jurisdiction in breach of national legal air quality objectives it can declare an AQMA, which enables the authority to apply for special funding to monitor and tackle the air pollution problem.
After an AQMA is declared, a council is then obliged to produce an Air Quality Action Plan for submission to Defra.
According to the Portsmouth Labour Party, should the proposals be approved, it could lead to the scrapping of the Gatscombe Park air quality monitoring site, which they claim is vital to monitoring future fluctuations in air quality within the city.
The campaign is being spearheaded by councillor John Ferrett leader of the Labour group on Portsmouth city council, and Sue Greenfield, Labour’s ward co-ordinator for the Hilsea area.
Commenting on the campaign said: “Monitoring air quality is fundamental to reducing pollution. It has to be taken seriously if the long term risks to public health are to be reduced.â€?
Anneliese Dodds, one of Labour’s European candidates for Portsmouth, is also supporting moves by other Labour’s MEPs to challenge the UK government on the legality of the proposals.
Labour MPs have also criticised the government’s plans to scrap the obligation for councils to monitor air quality, with Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne describing the ammendements as ‘an absolute scandal’.
The government’s consultation document itself stated that meeting EU limits is a ‘significant challenge’ and that there is also a ‘significant infraction risk’ from the EU for not meeting these limits. The consultation closed in September, and the government is due to publish its response in the coming months.