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Letter: The Longer We Wait to Tackle Pollution the Harder It Will Be

Published on: 1 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 1 Aug, 2021

From: Jeremy Varns

In response to: Highways England ‘Not Clear’ Why Guildford Is Air Quality Hotspot

The solution is for most journeys to be made by walking, cycling and public transport and for additional track capacity to move more freight by rail.

If Highways England doesn’t understand this, nor why the current approach is resulting in dangerous levels of pollution, we face an additional challenge. Tarmacking more of our town for new roads or erecting fencing will not clean up the air.

The rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) won’t solve the underlying problems either. And the main problem is urban car use, which is the dominant form of travel with all of its limitations.

Additional roads and parking spaces take away opportunities for other more socially responsible projects such as affordable housing, active travel schemes, play areas and much needed green spaces. There are also the practical implications of more EVs such as the need for charging points everywhere and the nightmare scenario of cables trailing across pavements.

It should be added that Guildford Borough Council has not been taking its responsibilities regarding air quality monitoring seriously for many years now.

The under-reporting of pollution has meant that much-needed proactive measures haven’t been taken; clean air zones have not received funding and those living and working in and around the town have been breathing toxic air for decades.

The longer we leave it to act, the greater the impact with be for everyone.

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Responses to Letter: The Longer We Wait to Tackle Pollution the Harder It Will Be

  1. Howard Smith Reply

    August 1, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Absolutely agree with everything Jeremy Varns says here.

    Yes, investment needs to go into improving cycle lanes (they really are not good enough). Let’s have fewer car journeys and provide incentives for non-car travel. Let’s see our councillors using their bikes and setting an example.

    This should be our council’s mission. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Howard Smith is a Labour Party Spokesperson.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    August 1, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    Mr Varns seems to think that the elderly and infirm can walk or cycle wherever they need to go. This is not practical in a hilly town like Guildford. Buses are also not possible as there are many places the buses just don’t go, or are too infrequent.

    The greatest pollution is on through roads, where people are not actually driving around Guildford to shop or visit friends, but are using the roads to get somewhere else. Reducing this traffic is not possible. Only by allowing the vehicles to travel at steady speeds, which is also not practical due to bus lanes and numerous traffic lights, could pollution be reduced.

  3. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    August 2, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Where does Jeremy Varns propose we get the additional track capacity from? We cannot expand the current London-Portsmouth route so this would mean a new rail line through Surrey green belt. Is this what Mr Varns proposes?

    The report that instigated these letters related specifically to NO2 pollution on the A3. Given that the vast majority of this is a result of diesel vehicles and much a from of HGVs that were never intended to use the A3, surely the simplest and most immediate solution is a low emissions zone around Guildford that imposes a levy on diesel vehicles therefore moving HGVs to either the M3 or M23?

    Mark Bray-Parry is a spokesperson for The Green Party

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