York council’s green champion has apologised over a “misleading” air quality survey.
Cllr Kate Ravilious, City of York Council’s executive member for environment and climate emergency, said the “poorly worded” consultation on air pollution was not shared with her before publication.
Questions on the survey included: “Do you own an open fire or solid fuel stove, which burns wood, biomass pellets, coal or manufactured solid fuels?”
York’s Green Party said the survey focused too heavily on burning wood and not traffic pollution.
Another question was: “To what extent would you agree with the following statement: ‘burning wood is an environmentally friendly, sustainable practice’?”
Martina Weitsch, vice-chair of York Green Party said: “The science shows us that air pollution comes in many forms.
“Particulates from burning wood are a serious health issue that should be addressed.
“But the council is failing to focus on the urgent health impacts of concentrations of damaging emissions from traffic in some parts of our city.
“These concentrations of emissions, in areas where many people including children live, walk and cycle underpin the declaration of the Air Quality Management Area that still covers the inner ring road and much of the city centre, including Gillygate.
“What we need to see is more action on traffic pollution rather than this blatant attempt to deflect attention onto wood burning stoves.”
‘This will not happen again’
Cllr Ravilious said: “I want to apologise for this somewhat misleading air quality survey.
“Unfortunately this consultation wasn’t shared with me before publication; this will not happen again.
“The questions around the sources of air pollution were poorly worded and I will be reviewing this.
“This consultation is part of a DEFRA grant awarded to the council under the previous administration and focuses on the air quality risks of burning solid fuel for heating.
“The survey should not be mistaken or misrepresented as being the sole focus of the council on tackling poor air quality.
“Changes to how people move around is a key part of our strategy to tackle poor air quality, as our emerging Local Transport Plan will set out.
“An updated Local Transport Plan is something the Greens failed to deliver in four years and which would have made a meaningful and positive impact on improving air quality in York.”