6 March 2018

Councillor calls on MPs’ help in securing air quality funding

Deputy council leader Gill Mitchell has today warned that the Government could be depriving Brighton & Hove of millions of pounds in funding to help air quality in the city.

Cllr Mitchell has written to the city’s three MPs urging them to raise the issue with government ministers in Defra, the environment department.

The letter comes after Defra recently rejected a £1.7 million joint funding bid from the council and local bus operators to keep improving the city’s air quality.

The council has used previous Defra funding to fit 76 buses and 22 taxis with clean air technology, and had plans to carry out the same work on another 95 buses from this bid.  

But Cllr Mitchell fears ministers have dropped Brighton & Hove from their Air Quality Action Plans after changing the focus from local authority information to national assessment results.

In the letter she calls on Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and Hove MP Peter Kyle to raise the issue with the Government.

Cllr Mitchell asks the MPs: “I would be pleased if you could draw ministers’ attention to these basic problems with the national air quality model that are now potentially excluding Brighton and Hove from accessing funding, not just from Defra but possibly the DfT and the Office of Low Emission Vehicle grants to the value of many millions. 

“We have improved air quality in the city by making full use of the grants we have received for cleaner vehicles and firmer evidence and have plans to do more.”

She adds: “According to our monitoring data for North Street and Western Road in Brighton, lower emission buses have had a sizeable effect over the last five years on the quality of the air that we breathe, bringing us closer to legal limits. But there is a lot more to do.”

Brighton & Hove is part of the Brighton-Worthing-Littlehampton group when national air quality is being assessed in the South-east. 

Defra’s only air quality monitoring station in the city is in the middle of Preston Park which shows the council to be ‘compliant’ as a Local Emission Zone (LEZ) area. The only other monitoring station in the area is based in Worthing.

However, Cllr Mitchell believes a monitoring station in the middle of a park cannot fully represent the air quality throughout the city.   

Cllr Mitchell adds: “By only monitoring the results of just these two stations, the national assessment is not presenting a representative picture of air quality in the city and classifies us as ‘compliant’ even though we have two established Air Quality Management Areas demonstrating local exceedances.

“Defra is now focusing on its national model and assessment results and not on local evidence provided by local authorities. We are fearful that the government has, in effect, dropped the Brighton-Worthing-Littlehampton agglomeration from its National Air Quality Action Plan.”