What would be the most effective way of tackling poor health caused by air quality?
Last week’s poll was predicated by environment secretary Michael Gove’s Clean Air Strategy, which is consulting on a raft of measures to ‘cut air pollution and save lives’.
Pollutants targeted in the strategy include particulates from burning wood and coal in homes, emissions from farms in the form of ammonia from manure and fertilisers, and dust from vehicle tyres and brakes.
Among the details announced by Gove were extra investment in scientific research and innovation for clean air technology and reduction of emissions of toxic pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen and particulates.
Other details include legislation to ensure that only “the cleanest domestic fuels” would be on sale. This might include controls on selling wet wood for domestic log burners.
Of the 345 respondents, 39 per cent thought the best option would be compulsory clean air zones (CAZ) that remove polluting vehicles from cities, followed 14 per cent who opted for controls on burning wood and coal. A total of 12 per cent thought that local authorities should be given powers to impose CAZs, and four per cent thought farmers should receive subsidies to improve slurry and fertiliser control. Just under a third – 31 per cent – went for the ‘none of the above’ option.
The sources and control of air pollution never fail to stir debate, as seen in the 34 comments received so far on the subject.
“Joined-up thinking is required instead of piecemeal action at the behest of the rich. A Conservative administration (even a minority one) will never act against the short-term, profit-is-everything interests of those who bankroll it,” said Ian Bennet. “Ban all private cars from city centres and have free local buses and trams. Everyone wants everyone else to use public transport to make more room for their own cars, so make public transport desirable for all. Those who are not prepared to use public transport can just stay out of cities.”
Michael Reid added: “There are a number of underfunded new technologies that have been developed over the last decade to solve this problem and they could be brought to bear very quickly if Gove is sincere about investing in that.
“The government have known of the growth of this problem for 20 years and paid very little attention to it despite the massive health care, personal and social cost of the sickness it creates. Gove would go up massively in my estimation if he really does put his money where his mouth is.”
Looking at potential sources of pollution beyond town and city limits, Bill Church said: “Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser is expensive and farmers do not chuck it around for fun. Increasingly, new technologies are allowing application only in areas that need it thus saving money and cutting potential pollution. These technologies often involve a high degree of automation using drones and automatic soil sampling.”
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