“Too little, too late”: St Albans green groups condemn government’s air pollution proposals

Air pollution is a hot topic in St Albans.

Air pollution is a hot topic in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

Environmental groups in St Albans have condemned government plans to tackle air pollution.

Peahen Junction. Photo: DANNY LOO

Peahen Junction. Photo: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

Powers for councils to create clean air zones restricting vehicular access to areas near schools and hospitals have been announced by the government.

But, the St Albans Cycle Campaign said: “The measures announced by the government to tackle air pollution do not go far enough.

“The government’s evidence shows that the quickest and most efficient way to tackle illegal levels of air pollution is by introducing clean air zones, but the government is not encouraging councils to introduce clean air zones.

“The roads throughout the city are already too congested and new developments are likely to add even more motor vehicles onto these congested roads.”

St Albans Friends of the Earth said: “In a word, no, we don’t think that the measures recently announced by the government go far enough to clean up the air in places like St Albans.

“While we welcome an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, this isn’t going to help air quality now.

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“We’ve measured pollution levels around St Albans and we know that levels of pollutants are high.

“Generations of St Albans children will grow up suffering the consequences of polluted air, and for them the measures proposed by the government are too little, too late.”

Air pollution is a hot-button issue in St Albans, with several Air Management Areas (AQMAs) dotted around the district.

These are zones with air quality below the EU standards, and include the Peahen junction in St Albans, and Smug Oak Lane.

St Albans council’s head of community services, Debbi White, said: “In recent years, we have undertaken a number of measures to improve air quality, including an anti-idling campaign and the promotion of green travel.

“The government is to make more details of its Clean Air Plan available to local authorities later this year.

“We will then be in a position to know if there are opportunities to apply for funding in support of our work to improve air quality and reduce pollutants.

“For example, we obtained £142,000 to retrofit 40 older buses that travelled through areas with high levels of air pollutants.”