Thursday, 19 July 2018

SOUTHAMPTON CITIZENS BEING CONSULTED ABOUT A CLEAN AIR ZONE

This post should be read in conjunction with yesterday's.

Southampton (UK) is the city closest to my home and so what happens there is important to me. I am a councillor in the neighbouring district of the New Forest and we were told by the Government that the main road leading from the New Forest into Southampton would be above the limit for NO2 in 2020. This result was obtained by the use of pollution climate mapping (PCM) a form of computer modelling based on similar programmes to computer climate modelling, as opposed to taking actual readings at the roadside. When these results were re-run using local information on traffic and climate data it was found that the national PCM was wrong.

For those with a few hours to spare and an inside knowledge of the dark art of PCM the consultation can be accessed here. I doubt if more than a handful of the public at most will read through all the documents attached. I have attempted to grapple with them and discovered some interesting points.

First the favoured option to "clean" the air will only reduce NO2 emissions by an average of 6.5% which equates to a reduction from a current reading of 42 to a new reading of 39.3. I doubt if such a small change would have a measurable effect on health and yet the cost of setting up the scheme is stated as £1.6 million, not including the help being offered to businesses adversely affected by the proposed £100 per day charge for HGV's and coaches that are non-compliant and non compliant taxis £12.50 per day. All private cars to be exempt.

 My fear is that once these Clean Air Zones have been accepted by the public this will soon lead to their limits being tightened and other types of vehicles coming into the charging regime. As more and more cities bring in these schemes it will be just a small step to introduce road pricing and then vary the price to the time of day. This is bound to lead to resentment, but it will probably be necessary to "encourage" motorists to switch to electric vehicles. But, as I said, who will argue against a Clean Air Zone?

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