Basingstoke has an air quality problem.
Over the past few months Basingstoke Transition, along with Friends of the Earth (FoE), brought and installed 14 air quality monitors across the Town. These measured how good (or bad) the air quality is in Basingstoke. The monitors measure the level of a key pollutant in the air called Nitrogen Dioxide. The results are not good. In 5 places in our Town Basingstoke Transition found that air pollution was above annual legal maximum allowed levels. In another 4 places it was so close to the maximum levels that it is almost certain that on some days air pollution limits are being breeched.
The monitors where analysed by scientists from Kings College (part of the University of London). They found that 5 of the monitors had pollution levels above 40 micrograms per cubic meter and another 4 above 32 micrograms per cubic meter. Both of these results are above the legal allowed limit.
As Martin Heath of Basingstoke Transition explained;
“Nitrogen Dioxide is a used as an indicator for all levels of air pollution. If NO2 is high than all other pollutants, such a particulate matter (soot), and Ozone are also probably high. These pollutants are deadly; and we need to get them out of the air we breathe. Only recently the Royal College of Physicians had found that over 40,000 people die pre-maturely each year because of air pollution. It damages our heart and lungs and is particularly bad for young children and the elderly”.
Martin Biermann, also of BTN, continued;
“We have just released a detailed report of the findings of our air monitoring. The results are worrying. Unless we do something to clean up our air the health risk is only going to get worse as the town grows. We have made a series of recommendations to the Council – but the main things we need to do are to reduce the number of car, bus and lorry journeys in our town and move to less polluting forms of transport as soon as possible – walking, bikes and electric vehicles are all alternatives to the car.”
He went on to say:
“The Manydown development provides the town with an opportunity to design-in many pollution limiting innovations, but sadly so far the borough council has failed to rank cutting pollution as a key priority. We hope Manydown will not become another missed opportunity”.
A copy of Basingstoke Transition report can be found here.
Detailed results can be found on the Friends of the Earth website here.
As part of Basingstoke Green Week Basingstoke Transition and Friends of the Earth are holding a meeting on Air Pollution on 21st September at Brookvale Hall 7pm.