IT HAS been interesting to read of Southampton Councils efforts and plans to improve the air quality in Southampton.

Judged by past efforts it’s difficult to be positive about the present incumbent’s ability of achieving the desired result.

The lack of park and ride car parks and growth of shopping malls in the city centre have resulted in the increased congestion predicted by traffic management experts many years ago.

The city often grinds to a halt when multiple cruise ships are in port or if Southampton FC are at home.

Hopefully the lesson has now been learned that simply adding cycle paths on busy roads and making journeys more difficult for the majority of commuters will result in increased pollution.

The current plans to further impede traffic flow by create a bus lane on the Millbrook Road between the Millbrook roundabout and Regents Park Road junction to service the weekend park and ride at Rownhams also makes little sense.

One wonders how many buses will use the lane on Monday to Friday and whether it is necessary to provide a lane for buses when the road is quieter at weekends.

Despite the reduction of traffic on the Western approach last year the pollution monitor on the verge alongside Redbridge School playing fields recorded Nitrogen Dioxide average peak levels of 107.4 ugm3 for the year April to December, May showing an average level of 132 ugm3 .

While it can be argued that the legal maximum level over a 24 hour period is 40 ugm3 it’s unfortunate if you have to travel through the area during peak periods when pollution is at its highest.

The port hosted a total of 117 cruise sips during May with six or seven in dock on some days.

The lack of port side electrical supplies (cold ironing) made it necessary for the ships to keep auxiliary engines running throughout their stay.

It is estimated that a cruise ships emits pollution equivalent to 14,000 cars in a 24 hour period and some of the highest levels were recorded when four or more ships were in port.

Despite the area adjacent to the docks suffering from some of the highest pollution levels in Southampton we now have the proposal to develop the Leisure World site in West Quay Road.

One would question the logic of building housing in close proximity to a commercial port.

The novelty of viewing a huge cruise liner from the balcony might not be so desirable if the wind is blowing the fumes from the stack in your direction.

I understand that the new cruise terminal under construction will be provided with the facility to connect resident ships to shore side power but it is unlikely to be used if the cost to cruise operators is greater than keeping the auxiliary engines going.

The Queen Mary 2, a frequent visitor, is equipped to connect to shore power but despite this often fails to use the facility when visiting the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York despite protest from local residents.

We are unlikely to see the cruise industry return to normal operation until the current crisis is over and we will once again be seeing an average of up to 450 ships visiting a year.

I have yet to see if ABP or any of the cruise operators have had discussions regarding connection charges and if Southampton council will be involved in providing a subsidy as this would benefit local residents and encourage use of the facility.

We also need power hook up facilities to be provided in all of the cruise terminals and regulations to ensure that all ships equipped with the facility to connect up actually do so.

No doubt the council will continue trying to improve traffic management and encourage use of public transport but unless the pollution caused by shipping and activities within the docks is tackled Southampton will remain one of the most polluted cities in the country.

Christopher Hinds

Through website