Community's pledges on Clean Air Day

July 30 2018

PEOPLE from Bishopston came together to mark national Clean Air Day and talk about how air quality can be improved in the area.

by Keri Beckingham

On Thursday June 21, events took place across Bristol to raise awareness about the damaging impact of exposure to harmful emissions on the health of citizens, especially children.

In Bishopston, the Clear Air Bishopston (CAB) campaign group organised an evening “community call-out” on the day, which was held at Boston Tea Party on Gloucester Road. During the event, locals were encouraged to share personal pledges on how they are individually helping to improve air quality. Pledges were also made by children, and one from seven-year-old Amy was to “remind mummy not to turn her engine on when there is a child behind”. The pledges were also shared and celebrated in an online photo gallery of selfies and pledge cards. 

In addition, the urgency and seriousness of the air quality problem in Bristol was further brought to life when an air quality expert, Jess Read, compared the health impact of pollution with the risks of smoking, saying: “Children in urban areas of Bristol will have inhaled the equivalent of around 1000 cigarettes since Marvin Rees became Bristol’s Mayor.”

Speaking about CAB’s work, Nick Plant, chair of The Bishopston Society said: “The Bishopston Society has rallied locals over growing concerns about pollution and air quality in recent years, including at two of their public meetings. Amongst others, academics based locally but with international research standing have pointed out the killer in our midst represented by the public health emergency created by pollution. They also made it clear that Bishopston has a problem with too many cars in too little space. Gloucester Road, for example, has a problem with air pollution from moving and idling motor vehicles.

“This led to the formation of CAB in partnership with Sustainable Bishopston, Bristol Walking Alliance and others including local councilors. CAB’s work is primarily health-focused, and its vision is a Bishopston with clean air supporting the health and quality of life of future generations.

“The group emphasizes not only the need to campaign to persuade politicians to take on the air quality challenge, but also the need for individual behaviour change and radical changes to our transport systems.

 “Citizen action on alternatives to private vehicle use, including walking, cycling and serious investment in public transport will make a real difference long term, and we’re skeptical about the limitations of the council’s short-term compliance-led clean air plan. We’re glad the city is taking this step forward, but it’s a very small initial one and represents a necessary, not sufficient, condition for cleaning up our air, in our view. We fear this will be a distraction and want to go much further, sooner.”

To find out more about CAB, visit their website: http://www.bishopstonsociety.org.uk/cab