This month and over August I have been working on supporting our council with their Clean Air Zone consultation and other ways to clean the cities air up. I have also been working in Parliament when it has been sitting on formulating renewables targets which I have been asked about by members. Read on to find out more:
You may also have heard and/or seen the Itchen MP Royston Smith denying the facts surrounding dirty air in Southampton and spreading general untruths about the council’s proposals for a Clean Air Zone.
Those of you who have known me for a long time or even for a little bit will know that jumping up and down, shouting and going red in the face like Royston is not really my style. With this in mind I have been doing hopefully somewhat useful work trying to address some of the issues that individuals and organisations have come to me with.
First of all, I am not reassured that DEFRA in their policies surrounding clean air have sufficiently recognised the specific and sometimes unique characteristics of the cities who have been mandated to take action. For instance, we are the only one of the initial cities mandated to have a Clean Air Zone that has a port which presents specific challenges. In the next couple of weeks, I will be having a conversation with relevant minister and telling them that they need to do more to support the council with these unique challenges and hopefully help the policy to work effectively when implemented.
I have regular meetings with the director of ABP and these naturally have turned to the Clean Air Zone in recent months. Amongst other things I have been linking him up with people that can offer low carbon transport for both goods and people around the port. The result of this is that he is talking about mandating that all port transport vehicles run from low carbon fuel sources.
Related is a meeting I had with Ford who were concerned that the trucks they used at the port would be affected by clean air zone. They were very pleased about and considering taking up some alternative sources of fuel that they could use to pre-empt any charges.
I met representatives from DP World whose main argument against Clean Air Zone is that it will hurt haulage firms and they will take their business elsewhere. I have been working with them to suggest alternatives to the dirtiest diesel engines such as bio- fuel and I’ve been trying to reach a compromise so that if a charge is included in the zone the impact on businesses is mitigated.
I’m hoping these sorts of meetings take the sting out of some of the organisations who have been railing against the council and the much needed Clean Air Zone. We simply do not have a choice in delaying cleaning up the air in Southampton. The evidence of health problems associated with dirty air is alarming and the more we learn the more worried I get.
There are many more pieces of work that I have been undertaking on the Clean Air Zone please do come up to me for a chat if you’d like to know more.