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Letter: Can We Trust the Conservatives to Control Pollution? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Published on: 24 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 24 Jul, 2021

From: John Rigg

R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity speaking on behalf of his party

In response to: A3 Guildford Pollution Worst in England, GBC Leader Blames ‘Infrastructure Deficit’

Deaths from motor accidents in the UK average about 1,800 per annum. Premature deaths a year in the UK from toxic air are reported at about 40,000 per annum.

Guildford is now revealed by Highways England as having the worst polluted road in the UK running through the heart of our town. This news about the A3 is terrible and made only worse by it being entirely predictable and that the fact is buried in the report.

So why are we here?

Decades of inaction and a refusal to invest in infrastructure by, sorry to say,  Conservative-controlled government at all levels, local, county and national.

Highways and infrastructure are firmly in the hands of central government and Surrey County Council is our highways authority. The government, after requiring Guildford to agree to thousands of homes in our green belt necessitating upgrades of the A3, cancelled the upgrades shortly after the Local Plan was adopted and the site allocations made.

At the moment, all that appears to be on the table is a short-term fix of 10 metre high walls to redistribute the pollution over a wider area of the town.

Whilst a tunnel would be great I fear it is just a soundbite from the party that has done nothing for years. Our MP is now left with only one resort, calling for a petition: but anyone can start one of those.

Some voters might have voted for Angela Richardson because, as a Conservative, she might be able to influence the Conservative government currently in power. Seemingly not.

As for the future…

With the government’s attention being on the North and probably ignoring the needs of the Home Counties I am not expecting a great deal of government support for a much-needed tunnel.

That means we have to make the best of our existing infrastructure which is controlled by the county council. Will they challenge the government? I doubt it. Will they help Guildford? Watch this space.

Of course, soundbites cost very little, so the government plan to ban petrol and diesel vehicles, without any sign of the charging points and electric generating capacity being available, is not hugely reassuring.

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