Thursday, March 13, 2008

London and the South East - Health and lives at risk from increased pollution

Residents in London and the whole of the south east should be aware, and alarmed at the potential impact of yet more nitrous dioxide pollution being released in the air above us by.....the expansion plans of the South East's airports.

The governments own Environment Agency has released a press statement criticising the Heathrow consultation, but also raising awareness of the increased collective pollution from ALL the airports in London and the South East upon expansion of flights:

In a damning conclusion, the agency said the consultation process, which ended last month, had not proved that the scheme would not breach EU directives on nitrous dioxide pollution. "After full consideration of the documents our conclusion is that overall we do not think the evidence presented is sufficiently robust to conclude that the proposed Heathrow development will not infringe the NO2 directive, bearing in mind the uncertainties that need to be addressed.

"This is because the assessment of air quality pays insufficient attention to these uncertainties and to the range of possible future scenarios, like road traffic, meteorological variability, climate change, background air quality and atmospheric quality," the report said.

Even if the third runway met EU guidelines there would still be a potentially severe impact on the health of people in the south-east, the agency concluded.

"It is likely that worsened air quality will result in increased morbidity and mortality impacts ... These air quality impacts will be present irrespective of whether air quality remains within EU guidelines, and are likely to be especially important given the high population density of the SE region."

London City Airports own assessment of the environmental and health impacts would be rather interesting if a public inquiry is sanctioned. In our opinion, London City Airports attitude to pollution in their report, and it's effect on the communities is cavalier and frequently uses the term 'minimal effects' which we feel is grossly inaccurate. Many feel that expansion is tantamount to signing away a reduction in residents years of good health.
When LCA's own pollution measurements, carried out by the '18million Euro men at RPS', did indicate high levels of pollution they were conveniently blamed on the wind direction!! We told you how it can go from bad to good so easily. How very unsurprising!

What is more LCA like to claim that the roads in the borough of Newham (surely they are not blaming their own employees who have to have a car to work at LCA?) are the source of all pollution - despite, from our understanding that the airport has never been part of the air quality measuring scheme that Newham operates.

So we'd love the Environment Agency to focus on LCA in the same way as they have done on BAA but we realise that they do not have the same governance over them. But of course, as LCA are doing the sneaky thing, and going for expansion in increments of two applications (the first is the current one, the next is planned for the summer)...they have by-passed a certain amount of independent scrutiny. How very unsurprising, again!

We, at FTF, want to see independent scrutiny on LCA's spinned up, glossed over application to increase flights - and we know that so many others, across many boroughs also want the same.

They used to say cigarettes didn't kill you....look what happened there. It took just a few determined people to challenge, and change, the same corporate, cavalier attitude.