Councillor Tom Hanson's forlorn hope that “green groups” would go away and leave his pet project alone (TUNNEL 'HEALTH RISK’), seems to be little more than an attempt to deflect opinion away from the very real worry that local health will be negatively affected by the new Tyne tunnel. That he failed to comment on the research referred to by the Alliance suggests local health issues are secondary where the tunnel is concerned.
The conclusion of the University of Southern California research is clear – high traffic volumes shortens the lives of those who live near busy roads.
Coun Hanson’s "traffic will be free-flowing once the second Tyne Tunnel is built" argument is based upon the presumption that the main cause of the current pollution problem at the tunnel is engine idling. This is a distraction from the real cause of the problem - traffic volumes. The new road tunnel will increase the amount of local traffic, as acknowledged by the PTA's own Environmental Impact Assessment.
The engine idling argument presents the fiction that the PTA is on a mission to reduce the local impact of pollution from cars. If engine idling emissions was the PTA's main concern then mitigation would be simple - oblige drivers to turn off their engines whilst the vehicle is at rest. It's not a novel idea - other European countries employ the same technique. Since the PTA hasn’t already considered this method it's reasonable to assume that concern for the health of local residents isn't the PTA's prime motivation.
Presumably, shortening children’s lives is a fair price to pay to shave vital minutes off the daily commute.
If Coun Hanson genuinely cares about local health, then instead of acting deaf to local peoples' concerns and dumb over the impact of traffic on health, he should do something about getting people out of cars and onto public transport, instead of feeding the roads machine with our children's lives.
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