Thursday, 30 April 2015

"HGVs make up approximately 5% of traffic flow and yet contribute more than 38% of the total NO2 emissions"

That’s what one survey found in Exeter. It’s something to remember when Aggregate Industries tells us that its HGVs would only make up a small proportion of traffic on the B3180 over the next 5 years.

Air pollution is in the news at the moment. The Supreme Court has ordered the UK government to take immediate action to cut NO2 air pollution - "the Government must prepare and consult on new air quality plans for submission to the European Commission... no later than December 31 2015". Air pollution is responsible for some 600,000 premature deaths in Europe each year; "29,000 early deaths a year in the UK - more than obesity and alcohol combined".

But air pollution does not just affect our biggest cities. Exeter City Council says that air pollution "may contribute to the deaths of 42 people in the city this year alone":
Exeter is one of the greenest and most beautiful places to live in the country. But no matter how good the air quality may appear, air pollution is an invisible potential health threat to everyone that lives and works here. Particularly vulnerable groups are children, pregnant women, the elderly and patients with pre-existing respiratory diseases.
DCC may not care about the adverse health impacts of air pollution on people living along the B3180, when it assesses AI’s application to haul as-dug sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm to Woodbury Common, 8 miles away for processing; DCC may not care about the impact of all the other associated heavy traffic a processing plant brings; however, what DCC will be required to assess is AI's air pollution impact on a site of European importance to nature. Planning guidance on air quality says:
When deciding whether air quality is relevant to a planning application, considerations could include whether the development would: Affect biodiversity. In particular, is it likely to result in deposition or concentration of pollutants that significantly affect a European-designated wildlife site, and is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site, or does it otherwise affect biodiversity, particularly designated wildlife sites. [5]
Natural England has already said that NOX pollution is impacting the East Devon Heaths. AI’s polluting million-mile haulage scheme, and the related HGV onward distribution traffic, would only cause more problems - for people and for nature.