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Preparing the air pollution monitoring equipment (photo: main).

Preparing the air pollution monitoring equipment (photo: main).

Petition launched to halt road construction due to excessive air pollution levels

Combe Haven Defenders have launched a petition calling for construction of Sea Change Sussex’s Queensway Gateway Road to be suspended while a potentially serious breach of air pollution limits is investigated. Nick Terdre reports.

The petition calls on Hastings Borough Council to call a six-month moratorium on construction of the Queensway Gateway Road in the light of what it calls a “potentially serious breach of air pollution limits” even before construction has begun.

“Our monitoring suggests that air pollution around the site of the proposed Queensway Gateway road is already well over the legal limit, and building the road can only make matters worse,” spokesperson Andrea Needham said. “This is an extremely serious matter – air pollution kills 40,000 people a year in the UK – and we’re calling on Hastings Borough Council to monitor the situation, and to call a halt to any further construction work in the meantime.”

The group say their own monitoring of air pollution using a diffusion tube indicated a nitrogen dioxide level of 48.4 micrograms per cubic metre, well above the EU’s permitted ceiling of 40 μg/cu m. The monitoring was carried out in conjunction with Network for Clean Air, a “citizen science project to measure air pollution,” at several locations along the QGR route. The reading given above was taken close to the future junction of the new road with the A21 in Sedlescombe Road North.

CHD point out that the EU limit is a mean annual average, while their readings were taken over a month. “Just one month’s monitoring is insufficient to say definitively that the levels are over the limit,” they say. “However, it is a clear indication that there may be problems in that area, and that ongoing monitoring should be put in place.”

Construction of the new road is expected to increase air pollution levels in its vicinity – according to documents submitted by Sea Change as part of its second application for planning permission, the road will channel an additional 10,000 vehicles a day, raising the volume of traffic by some 50%, CHD says.

Planning permission for the QGR was quashed in June 2015, after a legal challenge showed that it would have caused unlawful levels of air pollution. Subsequently, Sea Change Sussex revised the air pollution figures, citing “methodological errors” in the original application, and succeeded in having the project approved for a second time in December 2015. A second legal challenge has been mounted by St Leonard’s resident Gabriel Carlyle, who has appealed after being refused permission to apply for a judicial review in March.

Asked to comment on the petition, a Sea Change spokesman said, “We commissioned extensive technical assessments of local air quality in predicting the impact the Queensway Gateway will have, and this conclusively showed there will be no notable adverse impact on local people. Our analysis was undertaken by technical experts and focussed on local residential properties where air quality effects are most important. And it was based on robust, long term monitoring data conforming to rigorous national standards.

“Opponents of the scheme had plenty of opportunity to dispute this analysis when we submitted our planning application but they did not – and a few brief air tests by them now come nowhere close to the depth of analysis we undertook. Nor do they appear to have made any attempt to assess air quality where people actually live, which is vital for any air quality assessment.

“Local people are crying out for the Queensway Gateway road to be developed as soon as possible for the huge positive benefits it will bring in reducing congestion and improving local journeys – and the last thing they want is any further delays caused by a tiny number of protestors.”

 

This article was amended by Nick Terdre on 1 September 2016.

Posted 11:31 Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016 In: Campaigns

3 Comments


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  1. Emily Johns

    Please could Sea Change give HOT their data on air pollution to put in the public domain and publish the locations where it was gathered.

    Comment by Emily Johns — Saturday, Sep 3, 2016 @ 10:14

  2. barney

    Whatever your thoughts on this shameful event – nothing will ever justify the devastation and destruction of Hollington Valley: this unnecessary violation of wildlife and ancient trees and important flora can never be justified.
    The traffic situation will not change or improve. What a disgrace – we have lost an important part of our heritage here – and what for? Vacant land with no commercial interest shown. Shame on this quango called Sea Change or whatever else they wish to call themselves.

    Comment by barney — Friday, Sep 2, 2016 @ 09:25

  3. Nick Terdre

    A belated comment has been received from Sea Change Sussex which has now been added to the article.

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Thursday, Sep 1, 2016 @ 20:50

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