Published: 10:00, 04 January 2018
A plan to decrease air pollution levels in Deal and Dover is top of Green Party campaigners’ to-do list this New Year.
Members are asking readers to work together on the issue after it was found air quality levels in the district could be harming health.
Nitrogen dioxide tests were carried out outside four primary schools in Deal and five primary schools in Dover in November and the results have now been given to Dover District Council.
Green Party member Sarah Gleave said: “Our one-off sampling is not the same as longer-term sampling and none of our readings were above the legal limits, however our highest four readings were above the 20 micrograms/m3 that are the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum levels to avoid harm to health.
“Three of these four higher readings are from primary school streets which are outside the air quality management areas that DDC monitor.”
The highest readings were collected in Barton Road, Charlton and Barton Primary schools in Dover (32 micrograms/m3), and London Road outside Sholden Primary School (26 micrograms/m3).
High readings were also found at St David’s Road near Aycliffe Primary School (22 micrograms/m3) and Western Road in Deal outside Sandown Primary School (21 micrograms/m3).
Campaigner Liz Hayes said: “We are very aware that deaths attributable to air pollution in the UK, at 8% of the annual death rate, are higher than in neighbouring countries. It is an issue that we need to work on together.”
One of the measures recommended to reduce air pollution caused by traffic is the speedy replacement of diesel cars, lorries and buses with better scrappage schemes and the introduction of no-idling zones.
In Dover, the number of freight vehicles whose drivers keep their engines running while stationary, in cold or hot weather, adds significantly to air pollution in the town.
Tom Clother, of the Green Party, said: “The Port of Dover could help, firstly by making the lorry parks on the port no-idling zones and secondly by replacing their commercial fleet with electric vehicles.
“Many private car owners are aware that children’s lungs are particularly vulnerable and switch the ignition off to protect young lungs.
“Many of our supporters are parents of young families and have said they would buy plug-in electric cars if only there were some electric charging points in Dover District.
“Another form of protection for schools with playgrounds on busy roads is to plant street trees as a living barrier.
“We’d be very happy to work with community groups and across party lines to lobby for some solid improvements on this issue.
"Prevention is better than cure.”
Campaigners have met representatives from Dover District Council who say they are preparing to draw up a new action plan to improve air quality in Dover early this year.
A consultation will soon be launched.