Friday, 1 June 2012

Broomhill Air Quality Symposium - Update


Gerald has written a summary of the Broomhill Air Quality Symposium that he attended on Saturday 21st April in the University of Sheffield Medical School.

It was organised by the Broomhill Forum, sponsored by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Sheffield. The meeting was chaired by Linda McAven, a member of the Environmental Committee of the EU. Each presentation was followed by a short time for questions from the floor.

Dr Ogo Osammor from Sheffield Council’s Carbon Reduction and Air Quality Team and graduate of Sheffield City Polytechnic outlined the evidence of air pollution, its composition and sources in the Broomhill Ward and the rest of Sheffield, and summarised the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan, which is due to be submitted to SCC Cabinet for approval this summer.  While the air quality is not good in Broomhill, many other areas of Sheffield are poorer.  Our main pollution source is from road traffic.

Sheila Paul a consultant in Public Health at NHS Sheffield spoke on what is currently known about the impact of air pollution on the health of Sheffield’s population, both short and long term, with particular regard to respiratory diseases.

Prof. Margaret Bell CBE is a pioneering researcher in the assessment of impacts and management of traffic related environment, exposure and health. She reviewed the possible causes of pollution in the Ward and outlined potential solutions and practical actions taken by comparable cities and districts (smooth flow, queue relocation, metering, gating)  She said that a great deal of work is being done on this problem but the solutions are very complex if current volumes of traffic are maintained.

Rupert Cox is Commercial Director of Stagecoach, Yorkshire. Stagecoach UK Bus connects communities in over 100 towns and cities in the UK, running a fleet of around 7,000 buses and coaches that is one of the largest in the country. They have invested in 21 euro 5 standard Hybrid buses, which can be seen on the 120-bus route through Broomhill. He spoke on Public Transport and environmental issues from a commercial perspective.

Brandon Jones of FirstGroup described what his company is doing to reduce its air pollution.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie is an architect, practicing in Bristol. He is at the forefront of introducing the concept of shared space to the UK and his talk illustrated the often-surprising possibilities for streets and spaces that forgo conventional traffic signals, signs, road markings, barriers and bollards in favour of low speed interactions, social protocols and civility. However, this sharing of space could increase the exposure of pedestrians, particularly children in push-chairs, to pollution.

Small group discussions followed to consider the issues presented during the morning within a general framework of Enablement; Encouragement or Enforcement. A Facilitator, an Expert and a Note-taker assisted each group, to enable the views expressed by individuals to be fed through to the Plenary Session which ended the symposium with a final round up of questions across the range of issues and possible solutions raised and discussed during the day. The main findings from group discussions are intended to form part of the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan that will be published later.

Overall this symposium was exceedingly well organized and the contributors were eminent in their respective fields.  However the problem remains a daunting one which will not be solved quickly, despite the large amount of work and research being done to solve the problem of atmospheric pollution.