21 August 2017

Maidstone Greens have made a damning assessment of Maidstone Borough Council's Draft Low Emission Strategy in their response to the Council's consultation. The Greens campaigned hard to get the council to take action but they have stated that the draft proposals won't make a difference to the pollution levels or the number of local people who die as a result.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party Parliamentary Spokesperson for Maidstone and the Weald: "It is good to see that our campaigning last year has at least triggered some discussion at the council however, despite months of discussion in secret the council has produced a woeful plan that will not make the slightest difference to air pollution.

"The council simply isn't serious about tackling the appalling air pollution in Maidstone which can be three times the legal limit in some places. Over 100 people a year are dying as a result yet the council wants to do things such as  'investigate Low Emission Standard for buses' rather than taking concrete steps.

"The Greens want serious investment in alternatives to travel by car, an end to edge of town development where the only option is to drive, live air monitoring and road closures when pollution limits are exceeded. These are the types of measures that will stop people dying needlessly.

"Had the Council not held private talks and refused to provide information when producing the strategy then perhaps their strategy might have had some ideas in it that would actually make a difference."

Ends.

 
Published and promoted by Stuart Jeffery of Maidstone Green Party, both at 82 Buckland Road, Maidstone, Kent ME16 0SD

Notes:

1. Link to the consultation: http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/council/have-your-say/current-consultations

2. Our submission:

The first and possibly biggest problem with the strategy is that there is nothing about monitoring the pollution levels. There is currently no live monitoring in the centre of Maidstone since the removal of the monitoring station by the bridge.

There is no mention of the number of deaths due to air pollution despite this being a government figure. This is really quite negligent!

Comments about getting developers to put in mitigations are pointless given that most of the development areas are currently being built on.

The LES mentions that MBC wants to maintain electric vehicle charging points despite the only working public point in Maidstone being in the KCC car park and only accessible at weekends. You claim that there are points at Maidstone House, Moat Park and KCC Allington depot but these are not on Zap-Map which is where EV users find points to charge from. Maidstone House is hardly accessible to the public and Allington is out of town so we are not sure why you would stop there to charge. The Mote Park one has been out of order for a very long time.

Actions such as "Investigate Low Emission Standard for Buses" are meaningless and unlikely to deliver any reduction in pollution.

You seem to think that £65k cost of producing a Local Plan Development Plan Document is expensive yet this is tiny compared to the cost of EU fines or the deaths and illness from NOx.

We were shocked to learn that MBC has a diesel pool car. Perhaps MBC should have exchanged this once the facts about diesel became known.

What you are missing is:

  •     road closures at peak pollution times
  •     serious investment in alternatives to cars partly funded through a congestion charge and higher parking charges
  •     20mph speed limits
  •     a significant increase in tree planting in the town centre
  •     lobbying government for a diesel scrapage scheme
  •     an end to out of town developments and a focus on affordable housing, in town and close to public transport links