SIR – I rather doubt that local government elections have ever been won or lost on the basis of a campaign for better air quality. Maybe that is a reflection of voters and politicians failing to put a proper priority on things.
I have to say that I am pretty shocked by the complacency surrounding air quality issues in the New Forest district area.
On the one hand, we have the district council adopting a business as usual strategy, with no plans to do anything very effective at all.
On the other hand, we know that about 40,000 people die prematurely every year from poor air quality, with about 100 annual deaths in the New Forest (Public Health England figures).
The two worst affected areas are Lyndhurst High Street and the A35 from Rushington roundabout, into Redbridge. Surprise, surprise, the three local doctor’s surgeries all have higher than national average cases of people presenting with conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases.
I have no wish to be alarmist but if we had somebody randomly killing people at the rate of 100 a year in the New Forest, there would rightly be a huge public outcry, especially if the authorities were just accepting this and proclaiming it is ‘business as usual’.
I believe the current situation is wholly unacceptable. When the Liberal Democrats take charge of the council we will adopt an entirely different strategy, including the establishment of an Air Quality forum with clear targets for improving the situation.
Cllr David Harrison,
Leader of New Forest Liberal Democrats