Friends of the Earth – July 2017

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Our ‘Clean Air Everywhere’ Week of Action got off to a flying start on Saturday June 24th with a campaign stall at Bankers Corner in Terminus Road, that was eye-catching, to say the least!

Our volunteers easily shone out, despite the wind and rain. Even better, a very lively and constructive discussion about local air pollution started up on social media which generated a huge number of practical suggestions and proposals about the way forward for action on cleaning up Eastbourne’s air.

What is clear is that quite a few people agree there is an urgent need for much more detailed and consistent monitoring of air pollution across Eastbourne in order to identify all the hotspots that require urgent action to reduce air pollution, especially if those hotspots are next to local schools. What’s also clear is that there is a real appetite amongst local residents to get a citizen science project up and running to create this mapping of Eastbourne’s air pollution, and work is under way to try and make this happen, drawing upon best practice elsewhere but also using the talents and creativity of local activists and entrepreneurs, especially from Eastbourne’s creative tech industry, as well as the expertise and advice of air quality academics from local universities.

There’s also a need for Eastbourne Borough Council to team up with community groups and local residents to put pressure upon East Sussex County Council to make changes to its transport and roads policies in order to help reduce the amount of diesel traffic going through certain parts of Eastbourne, especially as the pollutants from diesel vehicles – such as nitrogen dioxide and particulates – are very toxic to human health. Eastbourne FoE has been talking to the volunteers of the Bespoke Cycling group, which has a great plan for a dedicated cycle lane along part of Marine Parade that would not only make cycling along the seafront much safer and more popular but also help to reduce traffic congestion and improve traffiic flow along the very busy Marine Parade. Such a detailed proposal is exactly the sort of thing that East Sussex County Council should consider very seriously.

Apart from creating healthier air for all of us to breathe in, reducing diesel traffic in Eastbourne would also help to reduce the carbon emissions of Eastbourne that contribute to climate change, that elephant in the room which we can never get rid of until it is dealt with properly. Indeed, it’s been said by many now that all policy proposals in any area should acknowledge climate change and not incorporate anything that would worsen it through increasing carbon emissions.

So important will the issue of climate change be in the new Parliament, regardless of the Brexit negotiations, that Eastbourne FoE has just sent a letter to the new Eastbourne MP, Stephen Lloyd, expressing the group’s concerns about this and other issues, and expressing the hope that Stephen will work within Parliament to deal with those concerns. We look forward to whatever ongoing dialogue with Stephen may emerge from this letter. In the meantime, we always welcome new volunteers to our group, which meets on the second Tuesday of every month at Eastbourne Town Hall at 7pm. For more information about us, check us out on Facebook or at www.foe.co.uk/groups/eastbourne

Andrew Durling, Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth

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