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Air pollution

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Now that the fury of the local elections has died down (perhaps a little hyperbole here), I thought I could make one specific and positive answer to the question as to what our new councillors could do to reduce air pollution.

I have to say that although in their Hebweb pieces, most of the prospective councillors were keen on the Climate Change Emergency and very proud that Calderdale has declared such, they were very short on any practical proposals; this includes the one Green Party candidate who was full of his overall commitment to the environment but notably short of any practical suggestions.

So here's one; electrical charging points for cars.

There is not one public charging point to my knowledge in all Hebden Bridge nor in Calderdale. Why not gradually install more and more such points in Council-owned car-parks reserving the spaces for electric cars and not charging parking-fees but for power consumed? The Council would, of course, have a power contract with a green supplier. (What it doesn't already? What happened to the Climate Emergency?) If the Hollins Place debacle is anything to go by, the Highways Department would kick up a rumpus about reduced revenue from parking spots but so what.

I would be willing to change my present car for an electric model but, as I live in a flat, there is no possibility of installing a charging point. The Government has grand plans to reduce then prohibit the sale of petrol cars but the problem remains of how to charge them, something which for many is, like myself, impossible.

This is something over which the Council has total control. So stop talking the talk and try starting to walk the green walk.

From Paul D

Friday, 3 May 2019

I think expectations need managing here. Calderdale has been in possession of clear evidence that air quality in Hebden Bridge not only breaches recognised safety limits, but poses clear, direct and immediate threat to human health. Not least to the most vulnerable, the elderly, babies, asthmatics and those recovering from illness. 

They know the pollution is damaging our people, they’ve known this for years, this is the new asbestosis obscenity, I don’t  know what bit of the fact that pollution is killing us they find hard to grasp.

Don’t buy an electric car. Just press the crossings on New Road or Macpelah, suck in the fumes as you wait, and wait, and wait as the priority becomes clear and clearer still in your mind that you - the resident pedestrian - mean nothing. The car is all, electric cars fuelled by Russian gas will just displace the gas and toxins into another child’s nose. 

Our town is among the worst places to push a buggy due to high levels of pollutants along the A646 corridor. It’s the worst place to be old, Ill, or asthmatic. But wow it’s so very funky. Inclusive and arty isn’t it? So very nice to drive to, or through. 

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Calderdale not buying into the future isn’t a surprise, but in the case of electric vehicle charging points they may figure that the last thing they want is a huge ongoing infrastructure cost that may be unrecoverable, for something that may not be needed.

Maybe I’m missing something but I really can’t see electric vehicles as a viable replacement for petrol and diesel or as an answer to pollution. They’re too much of a backward step. 

Even short journeys will require careful planning, especially in winter. There will have to be a monster national network of charging bays with enough redundancy to ensure that there will be one free wherever and whenever you want it. The odd charging bay here and there isn’t going to cut it.

There will be no more spontaneous drives to the seaside because it’s a nice day. ‘Battery anxiety’ will become a major thing. Probably ‘battery rage’ too. The roadside rescue industry will boom, and will doubtless attract cowboys.

We’ll need a huge increase in electricity supply that may only be ‘clean’ at the point of use. How will it be generated, and by whom? It’s unlikely that renewables alone will meet demand, or that we’ll be any more self-sufficient in electricity than we are in gas or oil. Unless we go fully nuclear, of course… 

Then there’s a happy little thought shared recently by an auto engineer. Apparently there’s a fear in the trade that if an electric vehicle sustains damage that compromises battery safety, it can become extremely dangerous even to examine. It may also be a danger for any occupants, bystanders and emergency workers.

Electric vehicles may turn out to be like video cassettes - great, but only for a short time until something better turns up. How long might it be until you can’t even give your electric car away? In which case, it might be better to stick with what we’ve got and use fossil fuels more frugally - by rationing, if necessary - until we develop a technology that gives us what we’ve got now but at far less cost in harmful emissions.

Previously

HebWeb Forum: Tackling air pollution and climate change (Jan-Feb 2019)