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Bristol Mayor proposes 50k to fund air quality monitoring

Proposal to fund air quality monitoring equipment to be debated at city council meeting next month as part of budget talks

The Mayor of Bristol has proposed that a one-off sum of £50,000 be used to fund air quality monitoring equipment at “key industrial locations in the cityâ€? as part of ongoing negotiations over the council’s 2015/16 budget.

Bristol – which has been made European Green Capital in 2015 – has this year suffered from wood and metal dust problems from industrial sites at nearby Avonmouth docks, prompting complaints from local residents and leading to Environment Agency intervention (see airqualitynews.com story).

Bristol City Hall

Bristol City Hall – the council will finalise its 2015/16 budget at a meeting on February 17 2015

The Mayor has also faced criticism from city Lib Dem councillors over air pollution, with calls for more air monitoring and a low emission zone to be implemented in the city centre (see airqualitynews.com story).

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson has previously stated that air quality is the priority during the city’s year as European Green Capital, and has now included the air monitoring proposal as an amendment to his budget proposals, which were considered at a council cabinet meeting last week (January 13).

The proposal is part of a wider set of one-off funding ideas being considered for 2015/16, with an overall pot of £3.9m being made available for funding ideas due to more council tax than expected being collected this year. A recent consultation on how the money should be spent received 2,000 reponses.

According to a Bristol city council spokesman, in making the amendment, the Mayor reduced his £300,000 proposal to “support more joint working around the regionâ€? to £150,000.

This, the spokesman explained, enabled the Mayor to split this £150,000 saved evenly between “delaying a proposed reduction in local noise pollution services, community transport schemes and this air quality monitoring proposalâ€?.

The city council is now set to debate the 2015/16 budget and the Mayor’s proposals at a full council meeting next month (February 17 2015).

Vital measures

The one-off £50,000 air monitoring proposal has been welcomed by local Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie and city councillor Matt Melias, who have been campaigning along with local residents for long-term air quality monitoring in and around Bristol.

Avonmouth (copyright Bristol Port Authority)

Avonmouth (copyright Bristol Port Authority)

The MP said she was “furiousâ€? that city council air monitors did not have triggers causing alerts if air quality dropped below a certain level in Avonmouth, but was glad that the Mayor had agreed to fund permanent monitoring “possibly for at least 25 yearsâ€?.

Charlotte Leslie said: “The residents have suffered so much with dust, flies and other health hazards and I am delighted that there will now, finally, be the permanent monitoring they so badly need.

“For a long time now they have, rightly, been angry at the situation and there have been real fears for health. I am glad Mayor Ferguson has listened to councillors Wayne Harvey and Matt Melias. Hopefully this is the beginning of a brighter – and dust free – future for Avonmouth.â€?

Councillor Matt Melias added: “The residents of Avonmouth live in a highly industrialised area. They need to be sure that the air that they breath isn’t harming them. I am delighted that the Mayor has now listened to these concerns and has agreed to our proposals of permanent funding for air quality monitoring to this too often ignored part of the city.â€?

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