The current hot local issue is Epping Forest District Council’s plan for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the forest (some official reading here). Normally you’d expect groups like EFTAG to be in full support, but this idea may not be all it seems on the surface. So what’s wrong with clean air?
- The whole idea is an interim device to get Natural England to allow planning permission for a whole slew of new development.
- EFDC don’t seem to understand that dirty air affects humans as well as trees: the ‘clean air’ of the title will be in the ‘tree bits’ of the forest, not the ‘human bits’ where people live. Children need clean air, and Epping Forest has several hotspots where pollution is at illegal levels.
- The traffic diverted from the ‘tree bits’ will end up in – you guessed it – the ‘human bits’, so will make air pollution worse for people, not better. Add to that the increased traffic from housing development and you get the idea.
- Lastly, and this is EFTAG’s particular point, the way to reduce air pollution is to introduce a mix of disincentives for short-journey car use, and positive incentives for walking, cycling and public transport. EFDC’s plans have nothing here beyond vague, undated breezy phrases.
A hornets’ nest has been stirred up. There was full council meeting about the proposals on Monday 8th February, which should be available here.