The Labour-led council has announced a voluntary 'Clean Air Zone' to cover the whole of Southampton before a compulsory zone is required by 2020, but new pressure group Clean Air Southampton has said the measures don't go far enough.
Announcing the zone, Cllr Christopher Hammond, the council lead on air quality, said:
“The launch of Southampton’s Clean Air Zone, the first one in the south of England outside London, is the latest step in making Southampton a healthier, greener, cleaner place while minimising the impact on local business.
“Southampton has some of the most polluted air in the UK. It’s so bad that we’re currently breaching recommended limits. Taking inspiration from similar schemes launched in Germany and Denmark, the measures we are unveiling today [April 14 - pictured right] form part of our ambitious plan to cut pollution levels across the city by 25 per cent.
“Labour are committed to making Southampton a city of opportunity for everyone, working in partnership with business and residents to create an economy that works for all. As part of this commitment, we have decided to exclude private vehicles from these measures.”
'Put health first, not vehicles'
Responding, newly-formed group Clean Air Southampton (CAS) stressed that the zone will only be introduced on a voluntary basis from next year, won't be enforced until 2019, and will only target commercial vehicles.
“This is far too little, too slow, and doesn’t take account of the health risk,” said CAS co-founder Liz Batten, pictured left with Colin MacQueen..
“Private cars will still be allowed into the city with no controls or alternatives in place, and we know that they can emit many times the permitted levels of harmful chemicals. A recent review of studies has shown that a clean air zone is unlikely to reduce the pollution we are exposed to.”
Colin MacQueen, another CAS co-founder, said the council should put “people's health and wellbeing first, not vehicles first”.
At the CAS launch on April 13 it was claimed that a pollution monitoring vehicle – the Smogmobile - that toured the city found average readings roughly 50% above safe limits.
Data was geotagged and further reports on air quality in the areas tested are expected.
Clean Air Southampton is asking all political parties what their plans are for clean air in the city.
Previously - Video: Pollution in Southampton - 'We really must now act'
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