August 22, 2016 by combehavendefenders
Combe Haven Defenders have launched a petition calling on Hastings Borough Council to institute air pollution monitoring near the route of the planned Queensway Gateway road.
Unconvinced by SeaChange Sussex’s claims that the Queensway Gateway road (QGR) would not cause unlawful levels of air pollution, we have been monitoring air quality near the route of the proposed road. Our findings so far suggest that there is at the very least a cause for concern which requires further monitoring by Hastings Borough Council (HBC). We have launched a petition calling on HBC to institute a programme of air quality monitoring on Sedlescombe Road North, and to require SeaChange Sussex to halt any further construction work on the QGR for six months, until a clear picture of air pollution in the area can be obtained.
Please sign the petition now!
Those with longish memories will remember that the first planning application for the QGR was passed in February 2015, then revoked the following June after a legal challenge which demonstrated that SeaChange’s own figures showed that the road would cause unlawful levels of air pollution. Subsequently, SeaChange discovered – fortuitously – that there had been ‘methodological errors’ in the original figures and that having corrected these supposed errors, all was well – there would be no air pollution. All but three of the planning committee councillors accepted this conjuring trick, and the planning application was passed again in December 2015. Permission to apply for a judicial review was refused, and the matter remains in the appeal court.
In the meantime, CHD decided that we’d see for ourselves if there was an issue with air pollution. Working with the Network for Clean Air, we put up diffusion tubes at various spots. A month later, the tubes were sent off for analysis. When the results arrived, it turned out that the one nearest the proposed QGR/A21 junction was considerably over the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide – 48.4μg/m3, where the limit value is 40μg/m3. The limit value is taken as the mean when monthly levels are averaged over a year, so just one month’s monitoring is insufficient to say definitively that the levels are over the limit. However, it is a clear indication that there may be problems in that area, and that ongoing monitoring should be put in place.
Nearest diffusion tube: Bohemia Road
SeaChange appear to have made no effort to undertake air pollution monitoring of their own prior to putting in the planning application for the QGR. Their figures were based on HBC’s monitoring equipment: the particular monitoring site SeaChange chose for the purpose of the planning application was on Bohemia Road, some two miles south of the proposed new road. Had they actually monitored air pollution near the proposed route of the road, the outcome might have been very different.
10,000 extra vehicles a day
SeaChange’s traffic assessment would appear to suggest that, if built, the QGR would channel 50% more vehicles – some 10,000 a day – past the junction with the A21. If the air pollution turns out to be already significantly over the limit, then an extra 10,000 vehicles a day can only make the air pollution even more serious. The deaths of 40,000 people a year in the UK are attributable to air pollution: for the sake of the health of local residents, the QGR should not be allowed to go ahead if the area is already well over the pollution limit.
Halt to construction work and revocation of planning permission?
We are callling for a halt to any further construction work until a full programme of air pollution monitoring has been completed. If it turns out that there is a serious issue, then we are demanding that planning permission for the QGR be revoked. Please join us in calling for the right of the people of Hastings to breathe clean air!