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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Question by Rob Bird to Graham Gibbens, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Public Health

March 30, 2016 10:42 AM

Many thousands of children attend primary and secondary schools within the built up areas of Maidstone, a borough known to have very high levels of air pollution.

The recent joint report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Physicians (*) stated that "Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day". The report recommended that "Air pollution monitoring by central and local government must track exposure to harmful pollutants in major urban areas and near schools" and that local authorities should "Act to protect the public health when air pollution levels are high."

I am concerned about the adequacy of the work being undertaken to monitor and combat the air pollution in Maidstone and the rest of Kent and would ask the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health what steps will he take to ensure that the county authorities and the districts become more pro-active in tackling air pollution?

* https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution

Answer

Members will be aware that District councils have the statutory responsibility to monitor certain air pollutants, declare air quality management areas (AQMAs) and develop action plans, and I would urge Members to raise specific concerns with their relevant District council, contact details of relevant officers can be found on the website www.kentair.org.uk .

Kent County Council (through colleagues in GET and SCHWB Directorates) and the Kent District councils do work together on air quality, through the Kent and Medway Air Quality Partnership (K&MAQP.) The partnership website (www.kentair.org.uk) provides an air quality forecast, and further information.

A subgroup of the partnership focusses on health, and this group has examined the 14 recommendations made in the joint report highlighted by Mr Bird.

The group is currently working to support the development of low emission strategies across Kent, whilst raising awareness of the need to take mitigating actions. The group will help to promote and implement the Kent Active Travel Strategy, (the development of which has been discussed by Cabinet Committees) once it is finalised and approved.

Maidstone Borough Council specifically, is developing a Low Emission Strategy, which will consider a range of themes, across MBC's areas of activity, and look at ways of reducing emissions. I would suggest raising your issue with MBC for further information.