For a growing number of months, the air quality of Knaresborough’s York Place has been a large cause for concern for its residents. The area should normally be referred to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), as the contamination levels have reached beyond the council’s threshold for intervention, however the lack of action is due to a mere technicality. Because the area is outside a commercial property, Harrogate Borough Council has said that people’s health isn’t directly affected.
York Place resident and Knaresborough Town Councillor James Monaghan said:
They are putting their reluctance to do all this above people’s well-being and health…the argument is there is not people there all the time so they don’t have to do anything.
And Monaghan isn’t alone in this belief. Others, including Bill Hoult, North Yorkshire County Councillor for Knaresborough, have leapt to the join the outrage against the apparent unconcern shown by Harrogate Borough Council.
Bill Hoult said:
Air pollution is responsible for almost 5% of deaths in the UK and particularly affects children and older people. I am calling on Harrogate Borough Council to acknowledge this air quality issue and put an action plan in place to reduce the risk to people’s health.
Following the strong backlash, Harrogate Borough Council did indeed issue a statement concerning the air quality of York Place, although it’s perhaps not a proclamation that will likely appease those suffering anytime soon. “All representations will be taken into account and relevant Planning and Environmental Protection officers will consider the matter before a final recommendation is made by the case officer. With this in mind, we are not able to comment on this application until the Planning Committee has taken place,” the council said.
Despite the unease surrounding the air quality in Knaresborough, it should be noted that residents can also do their part to positively impact their environment, by looking into hybrid or electric cars, varying their driving style by avoiding unnecessary speeding, braking and accelerating, as well as simply using other forms of transport when possible. Drivers can also enter their vehicle make and model into websites like this, in order to find replacement exhaust components such as catalytic converters, which will reduce carbon emissions from the engine.
Furthermore, there is some action from Harrogate Borough Council on eco-friendly and green matters. £237,000 of funding from the Department of Transport’s Clean Bus Technology Fund was recently secured, which is being used to alter buses with new equipment designed to lower emissions.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:
Greener buses mean cleaner town and city centres and a healthier environment for everyone. The upgraded buses that will soon hit the roads in England continue our commitment to better air quality by investing in greener transport. By targeting pollution hotspots and backing the low-emission technology of the future, we are making the right long-term decisions to improve people’s lives.