Alan Whitehead

Labour MP for Southampton Test

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We need to tackle air pollution with a new urgency

This week I attended the inaugural meeting of the All party Parliamentary Group on air pollution chaired by Matthew Pennycook.

Matthew described the state of air quality in the U.K. as a public health crisis and he was not alone in worrying that the response to air pollution is nowhere near commensurable to the harm it is causing.

The launch of the APPG on Air Pollution comes in the same week as a new study warns of toxic particles from air pollution as abundant in the human brain. These particles have previously been linked to Alzheimer's and whilst there is not yet a conclusive link air pollution has long been linked with other health issues such as heart disease and strokes.

I am calling on air quality in the U.K and in Southampton in particular to be tackled with a new sense of urgency. Southampton has been named as one of 40 places in the U.K that has breached the World Health Organisation’s safety level for air pollution and we have the dual problem of being both an urban area with nearby ports, docks and cruise liners.  

Two of the solutions I have raised so far have been ship to shore power or cold ironing where cruiseliners would plug into mains electricity when they visit the port which would reduce their contribution to air pollution. Another is the possibility of converting certain vehicles in the city to run on Liquefied Petroleum gas rather than diesel.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in parliament and on Southampton City council to tackle this momentous and growing issue across the U.K and Southampton. It is vital for the health of millions across the country that we get it right...and quickly done.


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