Bridgwater Transport Forum members have set up a working party, called “Liveable Neighbourhoods”, to explore ways in which Bridgwater can be made safer, greener and more welcoming. In March 2019, Public Health England (PHE), published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality in the UK. Air pollution is our biggest environmental threat to health, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. There is strong evidence that air pollution causes the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer, and exacerbates asthma.
In response to these concerns about air quality, noise pollution and the impact of Covid-19 on our well-being, the Liveable Neighbourhoods working party, consisting of residents who drive, cycle and walk around our town, will produce proposals for public consultation, and local authority approval. These will then be referred to Somerset County Council, the body responsible for commissioning transport schemes. One of the first outcomes of the Liveable Neighbourhood working group is a campaign to promote awareness of the effect of unnecessary engine idling. Turning your engine off is one of the easiest and most efficient steps you can take to improve air quality. This simple act will help you save fuel and money, fight climate change, and breathe easier. It might also save you a fine, as it is illegal to idle your engine when parked on the highway.
Cllr Glen Burrows, Chair of Bridgwater Transport Forum says: “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are being introduced in towns and cities across the UK. Improving air quality and reducing our carbon footprint are part of Somerset’s Climate Emergency Strategy, which aims to make Somerset carbon neutral by 2030. Motorised transport is responsible for 46.2% of carbon emissions in Somerset, compared to 29.5% from industry and 23.8% from homes.(1) We need to take action, and we need to act fast! Change is difficult, but these are the kind of changes needed to keep our planet and its people healthy. There will be full consultation with retailers and the public, before any permanent changes are made.”