Impact of the road on children and low income households

March 1, 2013 by combehavendefenders

children crossing

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is constantly telling us about the wonderful things the Link Road would bring: Jobs! Houses! No more sitting in traffic! £1bn of economic benefits! Rabbits and rainbows! (OK, we made the last ones up – but wait long enough and they may be promised too).

But what about the negative impacts?  Leader of ESCC and chief cheerleader for the Link Road, Peter Jones, never says a word about them, and one has to dig deep to find out what common sense would tell you: you can’t build a new road without adversely affecting a lot of people.

As part of their planning application for the road, ESCC was required to provide an equality impact assessment (EqIA).  This can be defined as ‘a process designed to ensure that a policy, project or scheme does not discriminate against any disadvantaged or vulnerable people’.

The following information is all taken from this document: you can read the report in full HERE (page down past the report to the Cabinet).

Air pollution

Campaigners against the BHLR are used to being told that the road is necessary because of the terrible air pollution on the A259 (Bexhill Road).  There is an assumption that if the Link Road were built, air quality on Bexhill Road would be vastly improved.

What does ESCC say about this?  Strangely, it’s very quiet on the subject – and here’s why:

No-one will experience large beneficial impacts in their air quality [if the road is built]. 47 people are expected to receive moderate benefits (all in the second most deprived quintile) and 91 people will experience slight benefits (all from the most deprived quintile).’ (emphasis added).

In other words, from a population of almost 12,000 in the ‘air quality impact area’ (this is extrapolated from ESCC’s figure of 2937 children living in the air quality impact area, comprising 20% of the population in this area) just 138 would experience ‘moderate’ or ‘slight’ benefits.

How would the road affect children, one of the groups required to be considered in the EqIA?

‘95.4% of the 2,397 children in the air quality impact area will see no change in their air quality. 3.1% are predicted to experience adverse impacts compared to 1.4% that will experience beneficial reductions. Two schools (Sidley Primary and Bexhill High) [this was written before these schools moved] are predicted to experience slight to moderate adverse impacts due to PM10.’ [PM10 are small particulates which can penetrate deep into the lungs].

In addition to adverse affects on children, ESCC admits that low income households would be disproportionately affected by the Link Road:

‘The air quality impact area is relatively deprived in terms of income. A large majority of the air quality impact area (78%) lives within the two most deprived quintiles and the impact area does not include any Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) which are in the least deprived income quintile.’

Health problems associated with inhaling particulate matter include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, respiratory diseases, birth defects, and premature death.  ESCC notes that some of these conditions are more prevalent amongst people from deprived communities and says that:

‘Mortality rates from cardio-vascular disease (CVD) are much higher amongst people who live in deprived areas. In 2009 rates amongst the most deprived communities were 2.5 times higher than those living in the least deprived areas. People from more deprived communities, therefore, need to be a focus of air quality and noise analysis to ensure that impacts upon them are not overlooked.’

However, noting that the number of people who would be affected adversely by poor air quality is small, ESCC blithely concludes that:

‘…air quality impacts are considered marginal rather than significant’.

And with that, ESCC fails to promise any mitigation measures at all for those affected by poor air quality, noting only that air quality will continue to be monitored (by Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council), whilst ‘the health impacts of poor air quality’ will be investigated (by the Sussex Air Quality Partnership).

And ESCC will, apparently, do nothing.

Severance

ESCC explains severance as follows:

‘Transport interventions can often have an impact on the ability to access different key destinations including employment, education institutions,
hospitals, food and retail shops, social venues and places of residence. Changes in traffic flow or road crossing facilities can sever walking routes and affect the ability of people to reach key services in their local communities or maintain social networks. This tends to affect those in the community who do not have access to private transport and those who have limited mobility (e.g. older people) which makes it more difficult for them to cross busy roads.’

That is to say, severance has a greater impact on those without cars: predominantly children and people in low income groups.  ESCC admits that there are places where proportions and densities of children are relatively high, and where severance could be aggravated (St Mary’s Lane / Ellerslie Lane, Sutherland Avenue/Collington Road/Terminus Road/Buckhurst Road). There are also a number of schools located within the severance impact area, with ‘moderate adverse’ impacts for school children attending Bexhill High School.

Noise

Clearly, the road would create a lot of noise nuisance for people living in areas previously unaffected, or only mildly affected, by traffic noise. As usual, it’s the lower income groups that are worst affected:

‘Looking at the properties within the most deprived income quintile, a greater number (40%) will experience adverse impacts compared to beneficial impacts (9%). There are 626 properties (13%) within the impact area which will experience large adverse impacts. Of these properties, 286 (46%) of them are from the most deprived quintile. 208 (33%) of them are from the second most deprived, and 0% of them are from the least deprived quintile.’

So at least 1500 people would experience ‘large adverse noise impacts’ from the road (based on ESCC’s figure of 626 affected properties, and a UK average household size of 2.4 people). And how is ESCC planning to make life better for these people?

‘We have offered to pay for secondary glazing of an older people’s home located near the BHLR and any other qualifying properties. This is part of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to purchase part of their grounds. Noise mitigations have been included in the scheme design such as acoustic fencing, noise bunds and the application of a thin surface course road surface.’

It sounds as if you might get a bit of double glazing if you’re so close to the road that you’ve actually been forced to sell a bit of your land to ESCC – if not, you’re on your own.

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