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Maidstone Borough Council to 'consider' declaring climate change emergency after Upper Stone Street named one of country's worst areas for air pollution

Maidstone Borough Council says it will "consider" declaring a climate emergency after the county town was found to be one of the UK's worst areas for air pollution.

With 79.3 micrograms of fumes per cubic metre of air, almost double the European Union's limit for nitrogen dioxide, Maidstone's Upper Stone Street generates the fifth highest level of pollution in the country, outside of London, according to Friends of the Earth.

Stuart Jeffery of the Maidstone Green Party asked the council at a meeting on Wednesday to follow dozens of other town halls across the nation who have already passed motions declaring a state of emergency over carbon emissions.

Cllr Derek Mortimer, chairman of the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee, said in response: "We will consider the appropriate action.

"At the moment, I understand 27 authorities have written a climate emergency policy, but there are 450-plus local authorities up and down the country, so we are not behind in Maidstone.

"I will consider it as chair and we will put it through to committee, speak to our officers and environment team, and go from there, on best advice."

Upper Stone Street, Maidstone
Upper Stone Street, Maidstone

Cllr Malcolm McKay said the Labour group supported Mr Jeffery's comments and insisted it would be looking to put forward such a motion at a future council meeting.

"I would like to think that everyone here would 100% endorse what you're saying," he said.

"I personally do, and don't think you've gone far enough. We should be taking the lead on this as a council."

Mr Jeffery said after the meeting: "It is heartening that Maidstone Borough Council has agreed to consider declaring a climate emergency, in response to our request at the council meeting but it is a real shame that they agreed grudgingly.

"Given the dire warnings from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and with numerous councils already having declared a climate emergency, it is obviously crucial that this is now taken forward with ambitious proposals and we will be working to ensure that happens.

Stuart Jeffery of the Maidstone Green Party
Stuart Jeffery of the Maidstone Green Party

“The climate breakdown has already started as this week’s extreme weather events have shown.

"The best time to act was 30 years ago, the second best time to act is now. Let us hope the council acts soon."

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