Let Pompey Breathe is a campaign group made up of several environmental groups and parties concerned about the poor air quality in Portsmouth and the lack of action to date from the council. We believe it is everybody’s right to be able to breathe clean air. The main purpose of the campaign is to reduce air pollution in Portsmouth and bring it down to legal levels. We’re asking the council to commit to reduce air pollution to meet WHO standards as soon as possible.
Air Pollution is a problem
Currently Portsmouth’s air quality is among the worst in the UK and it’s widely thought that 95 premature deaths a year in the city are related to air pollution. However, this figure is based on small particulates (PM2.5) such as emitted from diesel vehicles. When taking into account the effect of nitrogen oxide (NOX) and other air pollutants, that figure is worryingly thought to be as much as 6 times that. Furthermore, Portsmouth’s air pollution problem has been identified as roadside NOX pollutants. In February 2018 ClientEarth won a court hearing ruling that 33 authorities were in breach of meeting the government’s targets on legal levels of air pollution. Portsmouth was among those authorities.
Strong action is needed
Since the campaign launched, we’ve been out in the local community spreading the word about our concerns. In April we staged a peaceful demonstration outside the city civic offices, using ‘grave stones’ to highlight the number of premature deaths that are caused by air pollution. One of our campaigners delivered a letter to several key members of the City Council, calling for strong action to tackle the problem. Green MEP for the South East, Keith Taylor was in attendance. That evening he, along with 2 speakers from Let Pompey Breathe spoke about the air pollution issues we are facing across the city and why it’s so important we try to tackle this public health crisis.
Since the beginning of May we’ve been focused on collecting signatures for the petition we’ve got running, asking the council to commit to reducing air pollution in the city. Anyone who lives, works or studies in Portsmouth can sign the petition. We’ve had stalls at a local Green Film Festival and at different points around the city. Residents are receptive and keen to sign. We’ve also had a bit of press, giving an interview on the local radio station. We’ve just reached the required 1000 signatures to ensure the issue is debated at full council. But we still need more! The greater number of people we can reach to sign the Petition, the further we’re able to go in demonstrating to the council that the electorate want action on this matter. If you are not eligible to sign, sharing it with people who are would be a great help.
The first step would be for the Council to publish an Air Quality Action Plan for consultation. It’s important they do this as a collaborative approach to developing robust and sustainable solutions to the problem. Everyone needs to have an input including local businesses, residents and environmental groups.
If you want to participate in tackling this issue, a great way to do so is donate your time and or money to organisations that are working to fight this problem. Some suggestions are ClientEarth, Earth Justice, Friends of the Earth, Green Peace. Or consider the Green Party to help get more councillors elected who will stand up for clean air.