james mckay ecocentre

In February, the Post reported environmentalists’ appreciation of an announcement by the city’s Green Commission, chaired by Councillor James McKay, cabinet member for a Green, Safe and Smart City. This reinforced an existing pledge to cut the city carbon emissions by 60% by 2027, its carbon roadmap outlining a range of measures and policies, which include:

  • improving public transport
  • retrofitting insulation to homes and businesses.
  • launching its own energy company
  • and cutting its own fuel bill by 50% by 2018..

BFOEBirmingham Friends of the Earth look forward to the implementation of the proposals which would reduce carbon emissions; an emphasis on ‘active transport’ – walking and cycling – would cut Birmingham’s traffic levels and reduce harmful levels of air pollution.

BFOE’s Julien Pritchard highlighted the EU’s legal action against the government for its failure to cut nitrogen dioxide levels in Birmingham and fifteen other cities across the UK: “If the EU is successful, it could result in the UK being fined, fines which the UK government could pass on to Birmingham City Council”. Read on here.

His colleague, Robert Pass (BFOE Let’s Get Moving campaign) said: “We’re asking the council to keep up the momentum of last summer, by continuing to lobby for funding to improve the city’s cycle network. Continued and sustained investment in active transport would give people a genuine choice to walk or cycle for those 25% of Birmingham’s car journeys which are under two miles”.

Last year BFOE listed some effects of air pollution:

  • children growing up in areas of high air pollution can develop lungs which have almost 20% less capacity than healthy lungs;
  • up to 30% of all new asthma cases may be caused by living next to busy roads;
  • exposure can cause people to die an average of 11.5 years early; DoH attributes more than 6% of adult deaths in Birmingham to current levels of air pollution;
  • costs in health care in Birmingham alone are thought to be £182 million a year.

birmingham cycle revolution council logoThey look forward to the realisation of council plans to improve 95-kilometres of existing route, add 115-kilometres of new routes, provide popular routes into the city centre, introduce a 20mph limit in residential areas to make cycling to local schools, shops and jobs safer, upgrade towpaths on canals, develop new cycling “green routes” through parks and green areas, provide secure cycle parking hubs and develop cycle loan and hire schemes to make it easier for people to get started.

tyseley air monitoring stationIt would be helpful if Government does not follow up a proposal to close 600 air monitoring stations (Tyseley right) particularly in London, which – the Express and Star reports – has the ten most polluted neighbourhoods. Outside the capital Sandwell and Leicester are joint fifth, Walsall eighth and Birmingham in tenth place, equal with Nottingham. All have levels significantly above World Health Organisation guidelines.

CIRAS reports concerns raised about the air quality during the station refurbishment work at Birmingham New Street, scheduled to continue until 2015. The work is being carried out in a fully operational station environment and activities such as sanding are making the air dusty, with the potential to cause respiratory related illnesses for the staff who work there.

Has construction work on tramlines in the city centre adversely affected air quality – and will office workers in the neighbourhood suffer if the Madin Library is demolished?