Government (DEFRA and DfT) has just published “Improving air quality in the UK: tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities Draft UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide.”
Common toads are declining in the UK. Thousands are killed crossing roads each spring as they make their way to breeding grounds that they have used for generations.
Can YOU spare some time to help local toads, frogs and newts cross a road? Volunteers are needed by Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group to patrol Charlcombe Lane in Bath every evening from 13 February to 27 March 2017 when the road will be closed to through traffic for the amphibian migration. Access for residents, visitors and services is not affected.
All you’ll need is warm/waterproof clothing, and ideally a torch and bucket, although we can lend these. Hi vis clothing and free insurance is also provided. You can take part as little or as often as you like, although being available at short notice is desirable.
You need to be physically fit, and be prepared to work in dark wet conditions. There is significant uphill and downhill walking involved, often at a fast pace, on a paved surface. You also need to be prepared to handle amphibians and keep accurate records as results are collated and sent to Bristol Records Office and Froglife who collect data from around the UK to identify how populations are surviving. Training will be provided around this, and patrollers always go out with at least one other person. You will need your own transport to get to and from Charlcombe Lane, if you do not live locally.
We start at dusk and patrol for at least an hour or two – presence is needed every night, even if no amphibians are visible.
This role is not suitable for children under 14, and children over 14 would need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
Helen Hobbs, Volunteer Coordinator
Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group
It is reported that you will decide tonight on the location of a proposed Park and Ride and that Bathampton Meadows will be the preferred site.
Transition Larkhall, the organisation which I chair, has several hundred local supporters and has been actively involved in policies affecting many more who live in this area of the city.
We are working continually on the traffic and associated pollution problems which an east of Bath Park and Ride is meant to address.
However we are fundamentally opposed to this proposal and urge you not to adopt it. Instead, we request you to work towards more financially modest but more effective remedies. Details of which can be supplied on request.
Having examined the evidence, the Transition Larkhall (TL) committee has concluded that there is no environmental case for the proposed Park and Ride at Bathampton Meadows.
On the contrary, it seems most likely that there will be substantial ecological damage at the proposed site and that there will be no significant effect on traffic congestion and air pollution on the A4 London Road route.
Together with other local groups TL is working on proposals for alternative traffic reduction measures, which would be far less intrusive and costly.
At a time of severe financial constraints on, and cut backs in local authority spending it seems perverse to load the council with £20 million of debt on a white elephant which will desecrate the Avon valley.
The proposed Park and Ride will not remedy the problems from which we and residents of adjacent wards suffer. Such a focus will only detract from the time and resources that could be directed towards more effective measures.
Please do *not* support the Bathampton Park and Ride proposal.
(Dr) Bryn Jones
Chair, Transition Larkhall
‘An Invitation to Protest on 25th January against BANES Latest Plan for an East of Bath Park and Ride’
Having examined the evidence the Transition Larkhall (TL) committee has concluded that there is no environmental case for the proposed Park and Ride at Bathampton Meadows. On the contrary, it seems most likely that there will be substantial ecological damage at the proposed site and that there will be no significant effect on traffic congestion and air pollution on the A4 London Road route. Together with other local groups TL is working on proposals for alternative traffic reduction measures which would be far less intrusive and costly. At a time of severe financial constraints on, and cut backs in local authority spending it seems perverse to load the council with £20 million of debt on a white elephant which will desecrate the Avon valley.
Please therefore consider supporting the attached appeal from the Bathampton campaign group.
Ros Hough, Bryn Jones, Jo Wright, Paul Raithby: Transition Larkhall (TL) committee ‘
The reality of Skate park on the East of Bath located at Alice Park took a significant step forward on 6th December, after a long and sometimes heated discussion, the Alice Park Subcommittee agreed in principal to accept the £97,000 offered by the previous council for a skate park facility and together with other monies committed work on a plan to deliver the project.
A number of residents from Larkhall and the wider community spoke to the full committee and together with a petition of over 1100 signatures demonstrated the strong support for a skate park.
The decision to fund a skate park on the East of Bath was a full B&NES council decision and although it is not in the gift of the committee to change the use of this money several committee members asked whether it was able to do so therefore the committee also agreed to ask the council whether this money could be used for other projects instead.
It was recognised by the committee that Alice Park and its amenities has been poorly served during the last 10 years, partly because of its unique status of a single charity, and therefore missing out on improvements enjoyed by other parks in Bath & North East Somerset, the committee has asked that the two ward councillors start working up a framework for a full community wide consultation looking at a whole range of improvements for a one to three year plan to include but not limited to additional and inclusive play equipment, tennis courts, paths, outdoor gym equipment.
Councillors Rob Appleyard & Lin Patterson will welcome any input and support in developing the consultation structure with a view to start the full consultation process in early spring and will be asking for input in the New Year.
We feel this is a positive step towards realising the longstanding dream of a Skate park in the North East Bath.
Cllr Rob Appleyard and Cllr Lin Patterson
Posted: 09 Nov 2016 08:28 AM PST
The High Court judgement on air pollution is an opportunity to rethink our whole transport system.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 9th November 2016
The government’s defeat in the High Court last week was devastating – but I’m not talking about the Brexit judgement<https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/03/parliament-must-trigger-brexit-high-court-rules>. The environmental lawyers ClientEarth sued it over air pollution for the second time, and for the second time won<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/02/high-court-rules-uk-government-plans-to-tackle-air-pollution-are-illegal>. After trying every trick in the book<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/26/uk-tried-to-block-tougher-eu-car-emissions-tests> to continue poisoning the British population<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/18/treasury-blocked-moves-to-charge-diesel-cars-to-enter-polluted-uk-cities>, the government will now have to take action.
This will mostly consist of designating more clean air zones, in which diesel engines will be restricted. After 18 years of promoting diesel<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/22/the-rise-diesel-in-europe-impact-on-health-pollution>, that’s quite a reversal. In several city centres, we will be entitled to inhale the attar of roses and essence of orange blossom that wafts out of petrol engines. Outside the clean air zones, you are politely requested to die quietly.
I’m not dissing the judgement – far from it. Air pollution has been described by the World Health Organisation as a public health emergency<http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/air-pollution-public-health-emergency-who-world-health-organisation-a6821256.html>, yet it’s treated in most countries as a public health afterthought. Pollution is linked to heart attacks, strokes, lung and bladder cancers<http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/world-health-organization-outdoor-air-pollution-causes-cancer>, low birth weight<http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/28/air-pollution-causes-low-birth-weight-beijing-study-shows>, poor memory and attention in children<http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001792>, low verbal IQ<http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/01/pollution-health-risks-epa-supreme-court-free-radicals>, faster cognitive decline<http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/46/5/1161.abstract> among elderly people and the earlier onset of dementia<https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/air-pollution-raise-dementia-risk/>. In the UK it is believed to cause between 40,000 and 50,000 deaths a year<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmenvfru/479/479.pdf>; in London, it may kill more people than smoking does<http://www.healthyair.org.uk/twice-as-many-deaths-caused-by-air-pollution-in-london/>.
If as many service men and women were killed in Britain’s wars, politicians and editors of every hue would be outraged. But preventing these deaths means confronting both the car industry and the sacred freedoms of the motorist, so those with power treat them as sad but unavoidable collateral damage.
Let me give you an idea of how seriously the government takes this issue. Diesel cars would produce even more pollution were it not for their diesel particulate filters (DPFs). A car from which a DPF has been removed cannot be legally driven<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263018/diesel-particulate-filters-guidance.pdf>, but some people resent them, believing they affect performance. On eBay at the moment, 190 British traders are selling DPF delete kits<http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_odkw=DPF+delete+kits&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XDPF+delete.TRS0&_nkw=DPF+delete&_sacat=0>, whose purpose is to thwart, bypass or remove the filters. That these kits are on open sale suggests there has been no meaningful effort to stop this practice.
When governments take an issue seriously, they seek to quantify it. When they couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss, they scarcely bother to collect data. Assessing the health risks of pollution means measuring the level of exposure. This varies from one street to the next. One estimate suggests that 3000 schools in Britain are likely to suffer pollution levels above the legal limit<http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Health/article1618132.ece>. Yet the government lists just 155 monitoring sites across the country<https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/networks/find-sites>. In the West Midlands, where 5 million people live, there are six. There are 10 in London and one apiece in Edinburgh, Bristol, Doncaster and several other cities. In most British towns, there are none.
But while the judgement will force the government to pay more attention, its response is certain to be both piecemeal and faint. There is no sustained political pressure for anything better. The report on air quality<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmenvfru/479/479.pdf> published by a House of Commons committee earlier this year is remarkable for the contrast between the ferocity of its criticism and the feebleness of the changes it proposes.
For example, it proposes a car scrappage scheme, but only for people who want to swap their old bangers for new bangers. Yet the same report points out that 75% of the particulate emissions vehicles produce come from their tyres, brakes and erosion of the road surface. In other words, every motor vehicle, including electric cars, can damage your health. So why not pay people to replace their old cars with no car at all, by issuing the incentive in the form of public transport tokens?
Bicycles are mentioned only in passing. But given that over half the car journeys in this country are less than five miles<https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/514912/road-use-statistics.pdf>, that cycle provision is cheap by comparison to other transport options and that Britain suffers from an epidemic of unfitness, why not aim to make the bicycle our primary means of transport? Sorry – this is a one-way street. Significantly reducing the cars on the road appears to be unthinkable.
It’s not as if local pollution is the only harm that cars inflict. The materials required to build them ensure that all vehicles contribute to climate change and wider environmental damage. The noise they produce is a major cause of stress. While the police are quick to respond to complaints about anti-social neighbours and loud music, most forces are utterly useless at enforcing vehicle noise limits. YouTube is awash with videos explaining how to make your car louder<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DoarJAf55k> or how to remove the baffles from your Harley-Davidson<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7eoFXeUJsQ>, some of which have been watched hundreds of thousands of times. On eBay you can buy “loud pipes” for your Harley<http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XHarley+loud+pipes.TRS0&_nkw=Harley+loud+pipes&_sacat=0>, which can bring the roar up to 100dB<http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/11/harley-davidson-motorcycles-loud/> – enough to damage hearing.
In some parts of the country, as I found when I lived in mid-Wales, doctoring your car’s exhaust appears almost to be a test of manhood. On the rare occasions when police have sought to enforce noise limits, they’ve discovered that modified exhausts can produce 107dB<http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/police-crackdown-deafening-car-exhausts-1905480> – equivalent to a pneumatic drill. I can testify that a convoy of these cars speeding past your house 20 times in one night is not a formula for peace of mind.
A study in Bristol<http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/15513/1/WTPP_Hart_ParkhurstJan2011prepub.pdf> shows how cars slash the social fabric like so many knives. On streets with light traffic, people tend to know more of their neighbours, have richer relationships with them and allow their children to be more independent than on streets with heavy traffic. Cars kill community. The death of community kills well-being.
As for what happens to us when we sit behind the wheel, it would be surprising if this did not change the way we behave and the way we think. When we drive, society becomes an obstacle to be wished away. Cars, I believe, encourage the extreme individualism<https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/dec/20/politics.publicservices> that often makes a sense of common purpose hard to achieve.
I don’t deny the freedom and convenience they offer, but while everyone is happy to acknowledge this, we seem almost incapable of recognising the downside, except in the narrowest terms. Last week’s ruling gives us a chance to ask the big questions, urgent but scarcely visited, that surround this issue. Let’s not blow it.
We just wanted to let you know that Transition Larkhall and Alice Park Community Garden are taking part in Localgiving’s Grow Your Tenner match fund campaign which starts next week.
You can now donate online via either website, where you will be directed to our Localgiving page.
This means that from 10am on the 18th October any donation you make through our Localgiving page will be matched by up to £10! Each supporter will be able to make one matched donation and set up one Direct Debit.
We will be emailing a reminder when this match funding starts next week.
October is International Walk to School Month. To celebrate we asked our supporters for their smart ideas to get more children walking to school.
We’ve been overwhelmed with the response. So far we’ve had:
- fab ideas to make the walk to school fun for children
- great ways to get the community involved
- inspiration for decision-makers to put walking first
This is on top of contributions from experts in far-flung places like Australia and Canada. Closer to home, our very own Head of Policy, Tompion Platt, gives the lowdown on Living Streets’ vision for walk to school.
And the month has barely started! Keep your ideas coming in – together we can get more children on their feet.
Campaigns Manager, Living Streets