Why are Cllr Lesley Whybrow & FHDC failing to release air quality data which is relevant to the current pandemic?

High levels of air pollution NO² (Nitrogen Dioxide) is “one of the most important contributors” to deaths from Covid-19, according to research in Europe and the USA.

The analysis shows that of the coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted. Equivalent research undertaken in the USA, by the Harvad T.H. Chan School of Public Health, supports the findings in Europe.

The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles, and weather conditions that can prevent dirty air from dispersing away from a village, a town or city.

Other research shows direct evidence that toxic air – already strongly linked to harm in unborn babies – travels through mothers’ bodies.

The Shepwayvox Team have consistently reported on air pollution  across our district which link NO2 exposure to health damage, and particularly lung disease, which the science now says makes people more likely to die if they contract Covid-19.

The latest local air quality data, undertaken by Bureau Veritas, for  Folkestone & Hythe District Council (2018), makes it clear; results from 2018 show an annual mean increase across 7 of the thirteen areas where NO² is measured, as opposed to just 3 areas seeing a rise in 2017. The large incremental rises have been observed at sites just off the A260, M20 and A20.

Screenshot from 2020-04-26 13-46-42

Polluted air is no good for any of us in the district, wherever we may live.

On the 27th June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions target into law.

On the 24th July, Folkestone & Hythe District Council declare a Climate & Ecological Emergency

On 5th Nov 2019, Folkestone & Hythe District Council paid Bureau Veritas Uk, £1,680 pounds for the latest 2019 air quality report, which remains unpublished after nearly six months.

On the 28th Nov 2019, representatives of Folkestone & Hythe District Council attended a Climate Change Workshop held by Dover District Council (DDC). The workshop kicked off with a networking lunch, followed up by presentations by Kent County Council; Royal Town Planning Institute; Town and Country Planning Association ; WSP Consultants and Client Earth.

The documents published by DDC on their website, mainly relate to climate change and local plans which “set out the strategic priorities for development of an area and cover housing, commercial, public and private development, including transport infrastructure, along with protection for the local environment.

Lesley Whybrow 2

On the Jan 29th 2020, it was announced at FHDC full council, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green Party) (pictured)  had taken the Cabinet Portfolio for the Environment.

On the 30th Jan it was announced on the Shepway Green Party website that Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green Party) (pictured) had become the Cabinet member responsible for the Environment. Lesley says:

  • As a full member of cabinet with an environment portfolio I will oversee the climate change and air quality agenda and chair the cross-party Climate Change Working Group…”

On the 1st Feb 2020, the Shepwayvox Team called upon the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green Party) to release the councils emissions data, but to date, that information has not been forthcoming. This is despite the fact the council cannot refuse to publish this information – but it has been refused.

It is made abundantly clear in s12(9) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which states:

  • To the extent that the environmental information to be disclosed relates to information on emissions, a public authority shall not be entitled to refuse to disclose that information under an exception referred to in paragraphs (5)(d) to (g). 

Also the EU Directive 2003/04 makes it clear that:

  • It is also necessary that public authorities make available and disseminate environmental information to the general public to the widest extent possible, in particular by using information and communication technologies. The future development of these technologies should be taken into account in the reporting on, and reviewing of, this Directive

The Shepway Green Party website only mentions air quality or air pollutions three times. These posts were published after six members of the SGP were elected to the district council and ten to Hythe Town Council in May 2019. 

Prior to the election it would appear the Shepway Green Party were silent on air quality/pollution, according to their website.

Now it has been established that air quality/pollution is “one of the most important contributors” to deaths from Covid-19, will Cllr Lesley Whybrow and Folkestone & Hythe District Council release the data we requested on the 1st Feb 2020?

We also ask her, why six months after the Bureau Veritas air quality report was paid for,  she and the council has failed to publish the 2019 air quality report?

We fail to understand why this information; which cannot be refused; and must be published, has not been. As you know, we  always allow you to draw your own conclusions.

The Shepwayvox Team

Stay At Home (Breathe clean air) – Protect The NHS – Save Lives

About shepwayvox (1112 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

2 Comments on Why are Cllr Lesley Whybrow & FHDC failing to release air quality data which is relevant to the current pandemic?

  1. All Cllr Whybrow has truly banged on about is Princes Parade. I want a new pool and I sincerely hope the Council win the JR. If the Council win, will Cllr Whybrow divulge how much she and the SPP cost the council and the ratepayer for fighting an unnecessary lengthy legal battle. I’m not holding my breath.

  2. A Hythe Green Party Member // April 27, 2020 at 21:50 // Reply

    From my personal experience when there is work to be done, Cllr Lesley Whybrow disappears

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