R4U wins vote to require UDC to undertake pollution monitoring as mandated by the Department of the Environment

After pollution monitoring failures by Uttlesford District Council, R4U proposed and got unanimous support in a vote to require the council to undertake pollution monitoring as mandated by the government’s environment department, DEFRA.

Neil Hargreaves (R4U) Neil Hargreaves (R4U)

R4U’s Neil Hargreaves, an Uttlesford District Councillor for Newport, said “Following the failure of UDC’s local pollution monitoring in 2017, UDC based its most recent Air Quality report on national pollution baselines not local ones. Pollution levels have stayed above legal limits for many years but, UDC is now reporting a sudden and ‘unexplained’ reduction in pollution. The only difference to previous years is the switch to using national figures. An apparent reduction is unsurprising because national pollution baseline figures are unlikely to accurately reflect what is actually happening right here.”

“The government says councils should use a locally pollution baseline to provide an accurate reference point to validate all other local pollution measurements. After receiving UDC’s 2017 pollution report DEFRA has asked UDC to explain the change and they said ‘It would be helpful, if the Council are able to consider …. what local measures may have given rise to these reductions.’ At a recent UDC meeting, district councillors had been asked to approve a motion congratulating the council on its apparent reduction in pollution. After questions were raised about the validity of their most recent pollution figures, R4U amended the motion to require UDC to return to the baseline reporting required by the government. The motion was carried unanimously.”

Cllr Hargreaves concluded “Pollution is an unseen killer that is linked to 40,000 annual premature UK deaths. The true underlying trend shows that pollution remains at worrying levels across Uttlesford. In Saffron Walden the latest reports by developers show that safe levels will be breached at an unprecedented 12 places. This year a development was refused in Newport due to predicted illegal pollution levels and there are concerns in Stansted. The application for the Stansted airport expansion reported the whole of the M11 and A120 corridors to already have illegal air pollution even before adding 8,000 more vehicles a day. Our successful motion was raised to make sure things would be done properly in the future and that UDC do what residents expect of them and the law requires.”

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