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Sefton Council clears the air on pollution initiatives

As National Clean Air Day (June 20) approaches, Sefton Council is reflecting on the work it has done to protect the borough’s air and help minimise the effects of air pollution on residents.

The Council continues to support and maintain a number of initiatives aimed at limiting the impact heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) using major port routes have on air quality. A port booking system was recently developed which means that all vehicles destined for the port in Bootle now have a specific arrival and departure time. This has reduced waiting times for HGVs waiting to enter and leave the port and therefore reduced pollutant emissions from the port estate.

The Council also continues to fund the ECOstars fleet recognition scheme which rewards operators for ensuring their fleets are energy efficient. There are now around 3,000 vehicles taking part in the scheme with 4 and 5 star ratings.

Improvements to traffic light systems continue to be made to ensure that Sefton’s infrastructure is optimised for maintaining vehicle flows and minimising congestion. This work includes the implementation of a Hurry Call System at Millers Bridge which prioritises green lights for approaching HGVs.

The council is also working closely with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to identify HGVs operating with emission controls systems deactivated. During the pilot of the project, 10% of vehicles stopped were fitted with cheat devices, this project is set to continue in the Summer of 2019.

But it’s not just HGVs that are air pollution culprits, the Council recently launched its anti-idling campaign to target buses, taxis and parents on the school run and encourage them to switch off their car engines when waiting for passengers.

Sefton Council continues to work closely with schools to ensure that its youngest residents are aware of both the causes and risks of air pollution and the steps they can take to avoid it. Southport Eco Centre is set to launch it’s ‘Clean Air Crew’ website on Thursday (June 20) which is jam-packed with teaching resources and interactive learning opportunities. The site has been developed thanks to active engagement with schools and can be found at www.southportecocentre.com/cleanaircrew 

Thanks to recent grant funding from DEFRA, the Council is preparing to introduce an intensive road cleaning project that will aim to reduce particulate levels in Sefton’s air pollution hotspots. This grant funding from DEFRA will also help to fund research into the use of solid fuels for domestic heating and help to develop a behaviour change project.

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulation and Compliance, said: “Air pollution isn’t something that the Council can tackle alone and while there are a number of schemes and programmes in place to approach the issue, we all need to do our bit to make a difference.

“This may be as little as turning off your car engine when you’re doing the school run or it could be making the decision to switch to alternative travel like walking, cycling or using public transport.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: “Air pollution continues to pose a real threat to public health and we are dedicated to remaining transparent to our communities about the threat posed by air pollution and the steps residents can take to avoid exposure.

“You can check air quality readings online at www.breathingspace.sefton.gov.uk.”

Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health at Sefton Council, said: “Each year I develop a Public Health Annual Report to look closely at key issues that affect the health and wellbeing of residents. This year the report focuses on air quality in further detail.

“As we approach National Clean Air Day, I’ve decided to release a short excerpt of the report ahead of its official release. You can view the clip by visiting www.sefton.gov.uk/PHAR.”

Diane Blair, Manager at Healthwatch Sefton, said: “Air quality is an issue which local residents have raised with us and we have this on our work plan to monitor.

“We will continue to work with Sefton Council to share local feedback we receive and gain assurances that air quality remains a priority area”.

Brendon Prescott deputy chief nurse at NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG said “Air quality can have a significant impact on health, particularly for children, older people, those with underlying conditions and those exposed to higher levels of pollution because of living or commuting in urban areas.”

“That’s why together with Sefton Council we’re supporting clean air day and helping to raise awareness amongst residents of how their health can be affected by air pollution and of the actions they can take to reduce their exposure to harmful pollutants.”