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.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.