Public Health England, in a report published earlier this year, estimates an annual excess death rate in Bexley (based on 2010) caused by airborne particulate pollutants – much of which comes from road traffic – as 122, with 1,255 years of life lost, as a consequence, for each year of the effects.
Transport for London’s own consultation information made it clear that a result of building cross-Thames road bridges into Bexley, of which two are now proposed, would very likely be an increase traffic on our roads. We suggest it is certain to do so. So why is Bexley Council shifting very clearly towards supporting bridges, whereas until recently it had been against on the grounds of more traffic.
Public Health England’s
Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution.
states that ‘current levels of particulate air pollution have a significant impact on public health’, and that ‘Measures to reduce levels of particulate air pollution or to reduce exposure of the population to such pollution, are regarded as an important public health initiative.’
These new bridges are being sold in part on the basis that they are smaller schemes than the previous Thames Gateway Bridge (that was defeated by a major public campaign), and will ‘only’ have 2 lanes of traffic each way, one for private vehicles and one for lorries and public transport. But of course lorries, which are likely to be major users, run on diesel which, as recent press coverage has highlighted, is a greater offender in the particulates problem than petrol.
We should think also of the unquantified toll on all those creatures around us that have with smaller lungs and other breathing systems, and may suffer relatively greater effects. There are also problems arising from nitrogen deposition, which increases soil nutrient levels and favours commoner, faster growing plant species over those adapted to nutrient-poor habitats
The report makes clear that Local Authorities have a responsibility to implement actions to reduce the risk to local populations of exposure to particulate air pollution. So will Bexley do that, or press on regardless with what we can see it actually believes when you read the relevant documents, which is that more traffic is inevitable = economic growth and therefore = indisputably good anyway?
Report downloadable from our cloud site at https://app.box.com/s/jmlqpvagoxkjk2l4yd13
or from the Government’s own site at: