MP raises village air pollution in Commons debate
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert strongly criticised the South National Park Authority’s opposition to the Arundel bypass when he raised the problem of air pollution in Storrington and Cowfold in a Commons debate last week (Thursday 28 June).
Mr Herbert pointed out that Storrington is one of the five worst places for air quality in the country, according to recent World Health Organisation data, with a higher concentration of pollutants than in London
The MP said that traffic “rat-runs” through the South Downs and Storrington to avoid congestion on the A27, with the resulting queues of traffic then causing air pollution in the village. He said that there was a "very strong environmental case" for the Arundel bypass to reduce the traffic, and he quoted Highways England figures showing that Storrington would see more than a 20 per cent reduction in traffic in the first year after the bypass opens, rising to 38 per cent by 2041.
Mr Herbert criticised the South Downs National Park Authority’s decision to seek a judicial review of Highways England's preferred route for the Arundel Bypass, saying that it was “completely unacceptable”.
He said: "This is an extraordinary position: a public body, using public funds and through proper consultation, has identified the best route for a bypass that the Government have announced funding for and say is necessary; [while] another publicly funded body, the South Downs National Park Authority – paying absolutely no regard to the views of local people … in the communities in the South Downs National Park – is trying to prevent it from happening".
The MP said: “The meeting was not public. Notice was barely given of it. Where is the accountability for this decision? Why is not the South Downs National Park Authority made party to the collective decisions that ought to be taken by local authorities on environmental matters, including reducing air pollution? Why can it simply stand above that, when it is clearly of such environmental benefit overall to the South Downs and the downland communities?”
Mr Herbert also raised the issue of air pollution in Cowfold which also exceeds the statutory limits. The village’s Parish Council has asked for new signs to discourage heavy goods vehicles from using the A272 which runs through the village, but West Sussex County Council has said that no funding is available for a feasibility study into the scheme.
Mr Herbert called for “energetic joint action” by the local authorities to apply for funding which the Government had said would be available, through its new Air Quality Plan, for feasibility studies and measures to reduce pollution, saying "we cannot let this matter drag on."
He concluded: “At the moment, there has been inertia by all concerned, but when there are rural areas and tiny villages at the foot of the South Downs with the very worst air pollution in the country, something is wrong. It is completely avoidable and it is time we did something about it.”
1. Photograph: Nick Herbert MP speaking in the debate in the House of Commons.
2. Nick’s speech in the Commons debate on ‘Improving Air Quality’:https://www.nickherbert.com/speeches/2018/6/28/improving-air-quality.
3. WHO Global Ambient Air Quality Database (update 2018): http://www.who.int/airpollution/data/cities/en/.
4. Compare My Move blog: “The Worst UK Cities for Air Pollution”: https://www.comparemymove.com/blog/your-move/worst-air-pollution-cities.
5. A27 Arundel Bypass Scheme Assessment Report: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a27-arundel-bypass/results/sarv1forpublishing.pdf.