28th Jul, 2021

Air pollution concerns raised over location of proposed recycling plant in Coventry

AIR pollution health risks highlighted in last month’s landmark case of Ella Kissi-Debrah have raised concerns over the location of a proposed regional recycling centre in Coventry.

Councillors have been recommended to approve planning permission for a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) on disused former allotments in London Road at a rescheduled meeting this Thursday (January 14).

The plans have been supported by eight local authorities in the Midlands, including Coventry City Council, which currently pays £1.6 million a year outsourcing recycling across the UK.

It is estimated the facility could save the council around £847,000 per year.

But after last month’s postponement further objections about the location of the facility, increased traffic and air pollution have been submitted by Coventry and Warwickshire Air Quality People’s Chamber (CW-AQPC), Coventry Tree Wardens and a group of Whitley residents, who have launched a petition.

In a letter to planners, Coventry and Warwickshire Air Quality People’s Chamber says it is monitoring “alarming” air pollution levels in the region and is “deeply concerned”’ the proposed recycling unit will exacerbate the current “high” level of pollution in Coventry – “in many instances above the government’s own air pollutant levels”.

The environmental group is not opposed to a new recycling centre in Coventry, but objects to the location – just one mile from the city centre on a former green belt site near the new 70-acre Charterhouse Heritage Park, the River Sherbourne and two schools, Blue Coat School & Music College and Whitley Abbey Primary School.

The Chamber states: “We are strongly in favour of recycling at the right place, but it is more important to put the health of our citizens first.

“In view of last month’s London ruling as a Landmark case citing Air Quality as a cause of death on the death certificate of Ella Kissi-Debrah, we believe the waste disposal unit is too close to the nearby schools.”

On December 16 2020 inner south London coroner Philip Barlow ruled air pollution levels above the legal limits was a factor in the death of the nine-year-old schoolgirl, who had severe asthma, in 2013. Thef amily lived just 25 metres from the busy South Circular Road in Lewisham, where air pollution from traffic constantly exceeded the annual legal limit between 2006 and 2010.

The tenacity of her mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, has been praised. Her pursuit for justice helped to make legal history when for the first time air pollution was recorded as a cause in an individual death in the UK, as reported in The Guardian. She started to make the connections after launching a charity in Ella’s name, the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, to help improve the lives of children with asthma.

CW-AQPC says additional pollution will be created due to the large number of refuse lorries, not only from Coventry, but several other councils posing a “significant risk to health”.

Their letter has also raised concerns about the impact on the former allotment area which they say has “long been a wildlife heaven and a carbon sink that absorbs pollution near to the city centre”.

The group urges the committee to ask the applicant to propose an alternative location “on the edge of the city or near a motorway”.

The plans are available to view on the council’s planning portal here. Watch the meeting by pasting this link into your browser: https://youtu.be/GRfih2DwUso

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