When KNP undertook the Regulation 14 consultation with various councils, government and non government organisations and even The Coal Board we received comments and instructions on how we should change the policies and information contained in the 'Regulation 14' draft neighbourhood plan. One of the comments from East Herts District Council (EHDC) was an instruction to remove our policy to re-evaluate the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) from the current area (A414 - centre of town) by assessing whether Ware Road and Stansted Road should also be included within the AQMA. The reasoning behind this was simple, EHDC didn't think that this was an item that could be addressed by development, even though with more dwellings in Hertford bringing more cars there will be more pollution.
Coincidentally Karen, a stalwart committee member of Kingsmead Residents Association had found a website that publishes data on how polluted the air is around every dwelling in the UK based on real data
and a tool developed by Imperial College, London and had passed on the website. I promptly put in my address and was utterly shocked to find that I live in a house that is in the 80th percentile for pollution, ie only 20% of the dwellings in the UK are in a more air polluted place and the air exceeds World Health Organisation limits set for three pollutants. Other KRA members high results.
Surely this can't be right we thought? So, we checked against data that is available for Hertford it checks out.
So, why is this important? Because of the high risk to health; the pollutants we are being exposed to increase asthma, cancer, dementia (1) and cardiovascular risks to everyone living and working where these levels are high:
After a bit of intense work we collated figures for our area and these are below, and it turns out that 80th percentile is one of the lower figures, but if you want to see how polluted is your address? Then have a look at the tool at https://www.addresspollution.org/
With detailed figures as below:
So, what can we do about this?
There are many solutions but primarily we need to have less traffic on the roads. Everyone is different and we all have a different ability to do things; so it is about looking at what you can do with the physical, mental and financial resources available to you. If you can chose one or more of the following:
Where you are able to choose to walk/cycle for local journeys, or use public transport more. Maybe think about an ebike if you can't face walking up the steep hill on Stansted Road let alone peddling up it.......
Help KNP and KRA campaign for better public transport, more frequent and less costly. Also help out our campaigns for more pedestrian routes (ideally off road to reduce exposure to pollutants) and segregated cycle routes to enable people to use active travel options
Maybe consider moving to becoming a one or no car family; or think about moving to an electric car.....
If the engine on your car doesn't cut off automatically when stationary think about turning the engine off when you can......
Plant a hedge! Sounds mad but hedges can reduce pollution from traffic by up to 50% (weblinks below (3))
Get a moss wall - just a few square metres of moss wall (living not the petrified ones!) will remove large amounts of pollution including Nitrous Oxide and small particles. Moss walls also assist to mitigate climate change as apparently just 12 square metres of moss will use as much carbon dioxide as 275 mature trees (ie a small forest). Just wondering whether we can campaign for mosscreting (a type of concrete that supports moss growth) Gascoigne Way car park. Ah, it's outside of Kingsmead............but the A10 viaduct supports are in Kingsmead........
Support the inclusion of assessing whether Ware Road and Stansted Road should be included in the AQMA for Hertford.
Lobby your local councillors to reduce air pollution - this goes for all councils as the pollution comes from roads (Hertfordshire) but is exacerbated by developments (East Herts) and may be caused by council events (Hertford Town).
Is this a large problem? Yes. But it can be tackled providing we all work together
(1) - Article in the New Scientist - https://www.newscientist.com/article/2330483-air-pollution-likely-to-be-causing-dementia-say-uk-science-advisers/
(2) Existing AQMA map (apologies on quality but the links on the EHDC AQMA page to the maps appear to be broken atm. We will replace this with a better quality photo once available)
(3) Hedges to reduce air pollution