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Newark and Sherwood Extinction Rebellion hold meeting to highlight dangers of air pollution





Residents have been urged to cut their emissions, after the town’s most air-polluted streets were highlighted at a meeting.

A meeting organised by Newark and Sherwood Extinction Rebellion saw approximately 40 attendees addressed by Professor Philippe B Wilson, fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Dr Helena Clements, paediatrician and climate action clinical lead at Sherwood Forest Hospitals.

The group also recently held marches in both Newark and Southwell to raise awareness of the issue.

Newark and Sherwood Extinction Rebellion protestors in hazmat suits gathered at Newark Market Place to raise awareness of the issue last month.
Newark and Sherwood Extinction Rebellion protestors in hazmat suits gathered at Newark Market Place to raise awareness of the issue last month.

The meeting aimed to highlight Newark’s most polluted streets in terms of air quality, alert people to the dangers of air pollution and encourage them to reduce their own emissions and minimise their carbon footprint.

Professor Wilson listed some of the health impacts of air pollution while Dr Clements also referred to the recent Newark and Sherwood District Council report on air quality in April, which revealed a mortality rate of 5.3% attributable to air pollution, with similar figures reported for the East Midlands.

Dr Clements explained the report named Newark’s three most polluted roads for air quality — Bowbridge Road, Beaumond Cross and Brunel Drive — are also areas often busy with pedestrians and cyclists, and, in the case of Bowbridge Road, frequently full of children heading to or from one of the three schools in close proximity.

Car and bus engines left needlessly idling outside schools were a contributing factor, she added.

“Every parent and every bus driver needs to know about this,” she said.

“Children are just at the right height to breathe in toxins from tailpipes. They breathe faster than adults and are exposed from the start of life.

“We could do something about that. That needs to happen right now. We could ask schools to take action. We need to ask schools to put up signs about it, communicate with parents and involve children.”

Professor Wilson also pointed out that pollution levels clearly peaked at school run times, and said: “The sheer number of scientific studies addressing the impact of air pollution on health is overwhelming, and more than 36,000 deaths a year are catalysed by air pollution, according to a study by King’s College London.”

Dr Clements said the council report “contained lots of useful recommendations but we need people to know about it”.

Recommendations included communicating the message on idling outside schools as well as taking pollution into consideration in planning decisions and working with the county council to promote cycling and walking and establishing the impact of developments on air quality.

Balderton resident Graham Keal, who attended the talk said: “It’s clear that the impact of emissions on our climate and on our bodies demands an urgent response. We need government to prioritise this immediately and move away from polluting fossil fuels.”

Dr Clements added: “People shouldn’t feel disempowered as we can all play our part by reducing travel, walking or cycling more, leaving the car at home, avoiding banks that invest in fossil fuels and reducing meat consumption.

“Every person in Newark needs to be hearing these messages, not just us.

“I refuse not to have hope, and we don’t have to be perfect. There are many of us, so if we all do something, we will do a lot.”

What do you think? Let us know your views in the comments below…



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