Public to have say on strategy after air quality 'dropped seriously' in Cork this week 

Public to have say on strategy after air quality 'dropped seriously' in Cork this week 

On Tuesday night, air quality in Cork “dropped seriously” in Cork. File Pic: Larry Cummins

AUTOMATED air-monitoring systems showed poor air quality in Cork City in recent days, so the public is being invited to have their say on a strategy to improve the situation.

PurpleAir sensors, which are used in cities around Europe to measure airborne particulate matter (PM), showed ‘moderate’, ‘poor’, ‘very poor’, and ‘extremely poor’ readings on Monday and Tuesday.

The Draft Air Quality Strategy outlines the actions that Cork City Council will undertake between 2021 and 2026 to reduce the concentration of air pollutants in the city.

“The strategy builds on significant work being conducted by Cork City Council to develop a high-quality air-monitoring system and to develop initiatives that will significantly lower the levels of pollutants in the air in the city,” city council’s director of operations, David Joyce, said. “Cork City Council is focused on addressing air pollution and continues to enforce the prohibition on the sale of smoky fuel.”

Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy welcomed the public consultation.

“The air-quality plan is an essential part of the council’s Climate Adaptation Plan and one which I, and other councillors, have been calling for,” Mr McCarthy said. “Great credit is due to the council’s executive scientist department for gathering together best-practice insights with the help of UCC experts.

“Air pollution affects our health, particularly in children, older people, and those with heart or respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

“It is great to see education and communication at the heart of the draft air-quality plan,” Mr McCarthy said. “That, coupled with an hourly air-quality data dashboard, will inform the council with real data to help tackle the challenge of air pollution in our city.”

Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said monitoring and public awareness are central to the new strategy. On Tuesday night, air quality in Cork “dropped seriously”, Mr Moran said, and remained poor into Wednesday morning.

It is vital that the public is aware, Mr Moran said: “Getting that message out there, making people conscious of it, and knowing that it’s not normal is a very important strand of the strategy. I think social media and traffic signs can have a role in that.”

“In Cork, we can do a lot to increase tree cover, which soaks up pollutants, and to reduce reliance on private cars. That will involve the rebalancing of roadways to prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport.

“There’s a big overlap between a clean-air strategy and climate action, because fossil fuels are a main source of pollutants in both,” Mr Moran said.

Online submissions for the Draft Air Quality Strategy can be made via consult.corkcity.ie. Submissions can also be made in writing to Air-Quality Team, Environment Department, City Hall, Anglesea Street, Cork T12 T997, or emailed to airquality@corkcity.ie. The closing date for submissions is March 31.

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