Is the town a victim of pollution?

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Call the newsdesk on 01780 758951 or e-mail SUS-170809-161328001

From: Liz Moloney

St John’s Road

I was pleased to see Ginny Sanderson’s article about Eastbourne’s alleged high levels of air pollution in the Herald (November 10), but it left me not much wiser as I’d hoped to be.

We non-scientists need a scientist who is able to explain the current situation and help us to evaluate the way the evidence is being used. I’d also like to see a list of the different measures of pollution, with explanations as to how they are obtained, and the websites where they are shown.

Your newspaper has more than once used the phrase ‘the town is one of the worst offenders’ for breaching World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Is this situation wholly, or even much, under the town’s control?

If it isn’t – if for example this results from the town being between the continent and London, as many have said – the town is principally a victim rather than an offender.

Even if the WHO limits are lower than the DEFRA ones, they should still show comparisons and it is still strange that Eastbourne should score worse than other towns in the south-east such as Brighton, Southampton, or Reading, whose traffic levels are surely much higher.

What is the explanation for this? Does Councillor Tutt’s letter mean that other towns do not have air quality monitoring stations that are part of the DEFRA network, and their levels are thus not shown?

Dr Matt Loxham’s comments did not clarify this question, although he must surely be correct to say that whatever problem we may have need tackling at the national and EU level.

Dr Loxham is quoted as saying, ‘The levels are almost certainly a mixture of London and continent and maybe shipping activity’.

How certainly? And how does this work? I live in a block of flats where only the west-facing walls require repointing because they are the ones most battered by wind, despite the South Downs being directly to our west, sheltering us to some extent.

How then do pollutants from the north and south-east linger in the town, except when the wind changes to the east?

Can the downs really be accurately described as trapping pollutants? What evidence have we got about shipping emissions?

I wouldn’t argue with the desire to get people out of cars, as someone who swapped a car for a bicycle and public transport many years ago, but this applies everywhere. Road traffic simply does not explain the comparative figures. I hope the Herald will continue to press for information and explanation.

And I do wish that slogan ‘Breathe it in’ had not been chosen. Whatever the truth of this matter, it’s asking for mockery.