13 JUL 2017

Vehicle emissions

Kent Messenger Column - 13-07-17 

Last November I raised serious concerns about vehicle emissions with the planning inspector at Maidstone's local plan public hearings. The core of my anxiety was (and remains) unmitigated rising emissions from increased road traffic, directly arising from large increases in local housing.

Maidstone Borough Council produced a consultation document some time ago stating that public health was one of the key drivers behind their Low Emission Strategy. It says'air pollution is known to exacerbate asthma and allergies, ... it also causes increased rates of hospital admission and premature deaths.'

I am therefore relieved that MBC have now published their 2017 pollution strategy which repeats recognition of these hazards, accepts the serious nature of the situation, and acknowledges that it must be a priority for their administration.

Provisions for emissions standards for our buses and for many more electric vehicle charging points are but two of the welcome proposals. I am also optimistic about the commitment to introduce plans to take lorries off of the road at peak times. There are however significant questions that remain unanswered.

There is a commitment to introduce air quality mitigation in their planning processes, but 'shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted' is an expression that comes to mind. We already have mass development here without the necessary improvements to transport infrastructure, or the imposition of certain restrictions. MBC must set out how they will address this because the status quo is unacceptable.

I will be writing to Maidstone Borough Council about this, and other issues, as a part of the consultation process, whilst reminding them of their legal obligations under EU law and their duty of care to the health of the local population. I strongly encourage all of my constituents in the Borough of Maidstone to contribute to the consultation by clicking here. Your comments could make a big difference.

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