It’s nearly the end of Catch The Bus Week – an opportunity to encourage people to travel by bus, and to highlight the environmental benefits of bus travel, particularly in reducing air pollution. If we all switched from car to bus for just one journey a month, it would mean one billion fewer car journeys on our roads and would save 2 million tons of CO2 every year.
Air pollution has been proven to accelerate a number of health problems, such as asthma and heart disease – and it’s affecting our city. Earlier this month, I was contacted by a constituent who has had to temporarily leave their home because poor air quality was affecting their breathing. So it’s a serious concern that, according to the Government, Brighton and Hove is considered to be compliant with N02 legal limits.
I’ve called on the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to reassess the evidence and take into account local authority data obtained from monitoring stations on Lewes Road and North Street. The Government’s decision to ignore local authority data is having a detrimental effect on our city’s attempts to tackle air quality and specifically to apply to the Clean Bus Fund.
The Big Lemon is a brilliant example of how Brighton and Hove buses can be green and affordable. They expect to have the country’s first electric bus fleet ready by the Autumn. Brighton and Hove buses are working hard too, investing in hydrogen technology for example. But we really need the Government to get behind even more ambitious plans to put our buses at the heart of efforts to help reduce air pollution – both for the sake of people’s health and our environment.
Today I have challenged the Secretary of State once again to help us with cleaner buses and cleaner air. I hope by next year’s Catch The Bus Week at the latest he’ll have woken up to the facts and delivered.