Despite many reports and much talk, Kent’s Air Quality does not seem to be improving. Medway has merged what was previously six Air Quality Management Areas into three – one very large and two smaller. Tonbridge and Malling Council recently rejected traffic calming measures for Tonbridge Lower High Street which has been an AQMA since June 2005. They also refuse to consider pedestrianisation of the High Street proposed by local campaigning group PATHS (Pedestrianise Action Tonbridge High Street). Sign their on line petition at: http://www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/pedestrianise-tonbridge-high-street/3310
The religion of the car is well and thriving in Kent, in particular West Kent, much to the detriment of human health and wellbeing.
So, if our Councils won’t consider the obvious solutions to poor air quality, pedestrianisation and traffic calming, what remains? The University of Oxford conducted a three year study into ‘Ivy on walls’ for English Heritage on a variety of sites around the country and came up with some surprising results. In areas of heavy traffic, ivy reduced particulates , which are the main cause of respiratory problems, by 60 – 85 %. Ivy was particularly effective at reducing the smallest particles. See http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/publications/publicationsNew/ivy-on-walls/ivy-on-walls-seminar-rep-2010.pdf
As regards the concerns voiced that ivy can damage walls, the study found that ivy would root in existing defects, but caused no damage to walls which were already damaged. In fact, ivy covering on walls reduced damage by fluctuating temperatures and freezing.
More recently Transport for London has established its second green wall at a pollution hot spot in London. A study by Imperial College of the first London green wall on the Marylebone Road has shown that, green walls planted strategically can reduce air pollution by 30%, much greater than the 5% achieved by conventional street planting.
So what are we waiting for? Why is Kent still in the dark ages as regards combating air pollution. Get planting at your pollution hot spots – and then pedestrianise!