Air quality

Air pollution is obviously a very serious concern when it comes to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, and rightly so.  In areas that already suffer with illegally high levels of air pollution we need and deserve improvements to our air quality.

We’ve highlighted previously about the fact the proposed LTC would create a hugely destructive and harmful toxic triangle, and that the whole route would fail against World Health Organization (WHO) standards for PM2.5.

And PM2.5 is emitted by electric vehicles too, so EVs are not the answer when we talk about air pollution Highways England.  There are other reasons EVs are not the panacea some like to think too, read more here.

 

What HE say about air quality

When you view the front page of the LTC Community Impacts Consultation website Highways England one of the key points they list is ‘Air quality – improved across the region‘.

We find this completely misleading and ludicrous when their own evidence shows that some areas would actually suffer with worse air quality if LTC goes ahead.

Not only that we also question some of the areas that they suggest would see an improvement in air quality.  And that includes the Dartford Crossing.  HE’s own data proves the Dartford Crossing would still be over capacity, and won’t solve the problems that we all suffer with due to the Dartford Crossing,

Not only that but HE are not taking into account how traffic would migrate between the two crossings when there are incidents, if LTC goes ahead, and there wouldn’t be adequate connections.

It therefore stands to reason that if the congestion remains so would the associated pollution. Yet another example of HE attempting to mislead people, and avoid making the truths clear to people.

 

What we learnt at the Aug 2021 LTC Task Force meeting

Air quality monitoring
At the meeting HE explained that whilst they would be putting in monitors to monitor air and noise pollution levels before they start construction to get baseline levels, and also for the duration of construction, they would then remove them once construction was complete.  This means that they do not propose to monitor the air or noise levels once the LTC is open (if it goes ahead).

They were questioned how they would be able to monitor the impacts of the LTC in the impacted areas once operational, but didn’t really have an adequate answer to that.

Air and noise assessment data
We also learnt that the council have yet to be provided with the latest air and noise assessment data.  This kind of information will be quite technical and is something that would most likely need experts hired by the council to assess and explain.

It was made clear to HE that neither committee members nor the council thought it was satisfactory to be holding a Community Impacts Consultation when the information on things as important as air quality and noise assessments was not available to the council for their own response, and to be able to share easy to understand info about the impacts to the community.

 

Tunnel Ventilation

We had previously asked HE for further details about the ventilation shaft/chimneys for the tunnels, how high they’d be, what they’d look like, that kind of thing.  HE had responded that there wouldn’t be any ventilation chimneys for LTC, so we followed up asking how the tunnels would be ventilated.

During the August LTC Task Force meeting HE stated that the tunnels would be fitted with fans that would push the air one way, but that they would only be operational at times when traffic was stationary. They said this would be because the tunnels would be built to modern standards, and when traffic is flowing the movement of the vehicles would push the air through the tunnel!

They said the pollution from the tunnels would disperse within about 200m of the tunnel portals.  Although we’re not sure where it is meant to go when it disperses, surely it’s got to go somewhere?

When questioned about the close proximity to the tunnel portals of the two newly proposed ‘parks’ (also known to us as spoil dumping grounds) in relation to the pollution HE gave the reasoning that there are plenty of parks nearby to roads, and that it is nothing to worry about, and not as bad as say living next to such pollution long term.  We don’t buy that.

 

When HE say the increase in air pollution would be barely noticeable

Latest research shows that even small rise in exposure to air pollution leads to higher risk of needing treatment.  See Damian Carrington‘s article in The Guardian.

Exposure to air pollution is linked to an increased severity of mental illness, according to the most comprehensive study of its kind.

The research, involving 13,000 people in London, found that a relatively small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide led to a 32% increase in the risk of needing community-based treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital.

Also in the article it states that The World Bank has estimated that air pollution costs the global economy $5tn a year, but this includes only the well-known damage caused to heart and lungs.  So not taking into account things like dementia, depressions, anxiety, suicide, intelligence and other things that are more mental health and wellbeing, rather than physical health conditions such as heart and lung diseases.

There is no such thing as safe levels of air pollution, and even barely noticeable increases have serious consequences.  Many of us are living in areas that already suffer with illegally high levels of air pollution.  We need and deserve better, which is why we have to keep fighting the proposed LTC.

 

Related

LTC Toxic Triangleclick here

Health impacts of LTCclick here

Thurrock Nub News article on fact HE will not monitor noise and air pollution if LTC opens – click here

The Guardianresearch finds small rise in exposure to air pollution leads to higher risk of needing treatment