“Growing up in air-polluted areas linked to mental health issues”

Welcome Sidford Business Park:

“People who spend their childhood in areas with high levels of air pollution may be more likely to later develop mental disorders, research suggests.

Air pollution has become a matter of growing concern as an increasing number of studies have found links to conditions ranging from asthma to dementia and various types of cancer.

There are also signs it may take a toll on mental health. Research published in January found that children growing up in the more polluted areas of London were more likely to have depression by the age of 18 than those growing up in areas with cleaner air.

But a study by researchers in the US and Denmark has suggested a link between air pollution and an increased risk of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/20/growing-up-in-air-polluted-areas-linked-to-mental-health-issues?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Sidford Business Park gets approval

“The Planning Inspector has today published his decision regarding the appeal by Tim and Mike Ford, in the name of OG Holdings Retirement Benefits Scheme, for planning permission to build a Business Park in Sidford.
We are disappointed to inform you that the Planning Inspector has upheld the Fords’ application and therefore the Business Park will now be able to be built. This will be a shock and a huge disappointment to you. Attached is the full decision issued by the Planning Inspector.

However, this matter is not yet fully finished as there will still need to publish planning consultations on the detail of the site. Once these are known we will make sure that we draw these to your attention with the anticipation that you will want to comment upon them.

It’s a shame that residents were let down right at the beginning when the County and District Councils didn’t originally challenge or challenge sufficiently to ensure that the site was not included as employment land in the Local Plan. Once that happened it made our fight all the more difficult.
We must thank everyone who in their own way has sought to object to what we are all agreed is still the wrong thing in the wrong place.
Best wishes
Campaign Team”

More information here:
https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/inspector-allows-appeal-controversial-sidford-3231263

Hinkley C: Beware the consequences of large infrastructure projects

Hinkley Point C brings London-level traffic to small Somerset town.

Air and noise pollution, traffic chaos and rising rents are blighting the Somerset town that has found itself the gateway for the marathon construction of the new Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station, locals say.

Limits for air pollution have been exceeded on main roads on multiple occasions this year, while Highways England data shows truck numbers have increased by more than 20% since building work started in 2016.

On some roads, two heavy goods vehicles pass through every minute. Not all are delivering to Hinkley but, with no bypass built for the nuclear site, locals say it has made the town unnavigable at times.

Buses transporting 4,000 construction workers to the site add to the traffic – and the influx of workers is pushing up rents. Rat runs are in gridlock and a town that is home to just under 40,000 people is experiencing London-level traffic on some roads.

Friends of the Earth, which looked at the air quality data for 2018 and 2019 provided by the local Sedgemoor district council, said it was concerned about the high incidences of particle matter on some roads.

Data shows that particle matter measuring 10 micrometers (PM10) has exceeded safe limits on Quantock Road 16 times already this year, while on nearby Bristol Road those limits were exceeded 15 times.

The latest data for traffic shows the number of HGVs has increased from 470 a day in 2014 to 900 in 2018 on Quantock Road, the principal artery out of the town to Hinkley.

For nearby Horsey Level, the number of trucks a day is registered at almost 1,500, while on Taunton Road, the main road coming from the M5’s junction 24, residents have to endure 1,050 a day, making it difficult to cross the road and forcing many cyclists on to the paths for their own safety.

HPC says the number of HGVs travelling every day to and from the site is capped at 750.

… Hinkley agreed a fund to fit double-glazed windows on some of the busiest roads in Bridgwater. It says this is a goodwill gesture and not an admission of responsibility for the noise of HGVs.

“EDF have paid to replace all my windows, and it’s made no difference. On a summer’s night, I’m not able to sleep with the windows open at all,” said Balcombe. “I am woken up every morning at 5am from the noise of lorries. And when these lorries are empty the clatter they make is unbelievable with the metal bouncing round.”

HPC points out that the HGV movements will ease in the autumn when it switches supplies to the sea. The jetty is now complete and the permission it got for an extra 250 HGVs a day will expire.

For Bridgwater locals a bypass would have been the answer and helped relieve the town of its perennial traffic problem.

The former Labour councillor Mick Lerry, who was involved in the fight for a bypass, said the attempt was stymied because it was never part of the development consent order submitted by EDF. “As it was not part of the application, it could not be considered,” he said.

The government said it had considered the impact of HGVs on Bridgwater and was satisfied. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/14/hinkley-point-c-london-traffic-bridgwater-somerset?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

EDDC Tory DMC Chairman uses his casting vote in controversial planning application

“Plans for 10 new homes in Axminster have been approved, despite fears children could be flattened by lorry drivers who wouldn’t notice them until ‘they heard the screams’.

East Devon District Council’s development management committee via the chairman’s casting vote gave the go-ahead last week for outline plans for 10 homes to be built on land adjacent to the co-op supermarket in Axminster.

Serious concerns about highways safety had been raised by councillors as the front doors of the houses would open almost onto the road delivery drivers heading to the Co-op use.

But the committee heard that Devon County Council’s highways department had no concerns over the plans and hadn’t objected, and committee chairman Cllr Mike Howe used his casting vote to approve the application, saying: “I have to vote in favour as I cannot see a reason for refusal that would stand up and would not cost this council money at an appeal.”

Cllr Paul Hayward had said that he was very concerned about the safety aspects of the plan. He said: “This is building family houses next to a car park and the front doors will open directly onto the path of a reversing HGV from the Co-op. The lorry driver would only be focused on reversing into his spot and he wouldn’t even notice if a child run out of the doors after a ball or a dog or if they saw a friend across the road.

“A child wouldn’t even be on the radar until he heard the screams. Safety is paramount and I cannot conceive a worse place to build family houses.”

Cllr Sarah Jackson added: “The development is situated opposite a car park and alongside the car park access road. Family properties are likely to be occupied by young children who lack road sense and can easily run out unexpectedly, particularly as they may not perceive this as a road in the traditional sense.

“Equally, articulated lorries have incredibly limited visibility and when turning may not see a child in time. The nearest playing field/recreation areas are at Foxhill and Jubilee field. Both would require children to cross several roads.

“It’s worth noting that the play park at Jubilee Field is currently out of action due to a legal dispute and it is unknown as to when this will be returned to proper use, so it is therefore likely that children will end up playing in the car park.

“I just question the logic of putting family homes right next to somewhere where lorries will be reversing in and out to make their deliveries.”

Cllr Tom Wright added his concerns about kids running out and being run over, and added: “I also have environmental concerns. Encouraging people to live in an area which is being heavily polluted and there will be lorries running with their diesel engines is unbelievable and an absolute nonsense.”

And Cllr Paul Arnott said the development was the kind of thing you may see in inner-city London, but that ‘even there it would be turned down on environmental grounds.”

Planning officers though had recommended that the scheme, which would consist of three blocks, be approved.

Six homes would be on a terrace row which fronts on to the car park, with two semi-detached properties situated adjacent to the supermarket building and two further properties fronting onto the proposed car park for the new three bedroom homes.

Development manager Chris Rose said: “The application seeks to address the two reasons for refusal on a previous application which related to the unsuitable access and conflict with the loading area to Co-op and the lack of affordable housing contribution.

“The development can be accommodated without harm in terms of amenity, highway safety, visual impact or loss of character. Although these types of development would usually result in an offsite contributions toward affordable housing, in this instance viability information has been submitted which has demonstrated that such a contribution would render the development unviable.

“The proposal adequately addresses the two previous reasons for refusal on the previous application and as such is considered to meet the social, economic and environmental and thus achieves sustainable development.

Cllr Helen Parr proposed that the application be approved in line with the recommendation, saying: “It is going to be difficult to refuse this on highways safety grounds as Devon County Council’s highways team are satisfied that there is appropriate separation. I don’t see how we can object on highways grounds if they won’t support us. The other reason why development was refused was on affordable housing but there is now evidence that it would be unviable.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg seconded the proposal to approve the plans, saying: “If we don’t, I think that this is one that we would fail to defend on appeal.”

The vote to approve the application saw seven councillors vote in favour and seven against, before Cllr Howe broke the deadlock with his casting vote in favour of approval.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/homes-approved-despite-fears-reversing-3111980

“Climate crisis: can councils deliver on bold promises to cut emissions?”

Yes, if they have the will as the councils mentioned in this article already have:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/10/climate-crisis-can-councils-deliver-bold-pledges?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Schools need protection from air pollution

… Reviews of air pollution in schools, similar to Ofsted inspections, will be launched for the first time amid mounting concerns over the effect of toxic fumes on pupils’ health and education.

Air quality audits will be carried out in classrooms and playgrounds, with a range of measures being introduced to clean up the worst affected schools.

This includes the possibility of cars being banned from streets bordering some schools and moving bus stops further away from schools. …”

Source:Times, paywall

“Councils ‘must restrict traffic to protect children from pollution’ ” (Sidford Business Park?)

“Local authorities are being urged to restrict traffic around schools after a study in London found “relatively high levels” of air pollution inside classrooms, posing a risk to children’s health.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) study, Healthy Air, Healthier Children, reported data from the monitoring of indoor and outdoor air pollutants at seven primary schools in Lambeth in March, April and May this year.

Results shows the presence of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) both inside classrooms and outside all the schools. NO2 is a pollutant that comes predominantly from traffic, the study said, and can lead to asthma as well as make health problems of asthmatic people worse.

As there were no indoor sources of NO2, worryingly, the pollutants inside classrooms could only have come from outdoor air pollution, the report highlighted.

While NO2 was also detected outdoors (it was measured at school entrances for one month) at all the schools, at two schools levels came close to the annual EU legal limit and World Health Organization guideline of 40µg/m3, with averages of 35µg/m3 and 36µg/m3. Although, the study noted, these levels are averages and are likely to have been higher during school hours.

In addition, the research found high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) inside classrooms well above the recommended level of 1,000 parts per million (ppm).

This indicates that there is a need for more ventilation, the report said.

“Poor ventilation inside schools may cause asthma, dizziness, inability to concentrate, headaches and irritated throat – amongst other symptoms.”

It added: “Children at school should not be exposed to these levels of air pollution as they are especially vulnerable to its negative health effects since their bodies are still developing.

HEAL has called on local authorities to widen out an initiative called School Streets, already implemented in 40 schools across the UK, where streets immediately surrounding a school are closed off to cars during the school run.

The government also needs to help local authorities fund and deliver a network of walking and cycling routes to school, it added.

Anne Stauffer, director for strategy and campaigns at HEAL, said: “In cities, emissions from cars, buses and lorries are a major contributor to poor air quality, so investments should be made into not only reducing traffic around schools, for example with a ban on engine idling or restricted school streets, but also to finance those measures that will lead to a decrease in car use overall.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/06/councils-must-restrict-traffic-protect-children-pollution