More funds needed to fight air quality ‘health crisis’

Members of Adur Residents Environmental Action
Members of Adur Residents Environmental Action

A committee has called for more funding from the county council’s public health team to help tackle the ‘public health crisis’ caused by air pollution.

According to Public Health England, dangerous particles in the air are responsible for around 4.4 per cent of deaths in Adur and around 4.9 per cent in Worthing, the joint scrutiny and overview committee was told.

However these figures are below the average in England of 5.1 per cent, councillors heard during the discussion about air quality on Thursday.

Councillor Bob Smytherman said the public health team ‘had a responsibility to take’ and said: “It’s our residents that are having their lives cut short.”

Councillor Val Turner, exec member for health and wellbeing, said encouraging the public to change their behaviour was ‘extremely important’.

She said of parents picking up children from school: “Sitting there with their engines running, that creates a very short term problem.”

Environment officer Nadeem Shad said the council worked collaboratively to improve air quality as part of a county-wide partnership known as Sussex-air, which brought ‘a great deal of benefits’, as he said: “Air pollution does not stick within boundaries.”

He said that councils had no legal obligation to carry out continuous monitoring of air quality.

However, the continuous monitoring equipment on Shoreham high street was due to be replaced in the next fortnight, he said.

After the meeting, Geoff Hodgson from campaign group Adur Residents Environmental Action (AREA) said the replacement was to be welcomed.

“At long last we can get some true readings into the particulates, which we haven’t had for 18 months,” he said.

He said AREA was ‘disappointed’ that there had not been more discussion at the meeting, but said the group was pleased to get air pollution on the agenda.