Mother who says toxic air killed daughter fears increased pollution

Mother who says toxic air killed her daughter, nine, fears measures to ensure roads are more eco-friendly will make pollution WORSE

  • Rosamund Kissi-Debrah called on Transport Secretary to ban ‘green’ schemes
  • Her daughter Ella suffered fatal asthma attack thought to be caused by air pollution
  • She says that low-traffic schemes in some areas increases congestion in others

A mother who says her daughter was killed by lethal levels of air pollution has called on the Transport Secretary to ban eco-obsessed councils from closing roads.

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter Ella suffered a fatal asthma attack thought to have been triggered by illegal levels of pollution, says ‘green’ schemes designed to reduce pollution should be scrapped.

Mrs Kissi-Debrah lives near one of 114 ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ (LTNs) in London where road blocks are set up to stop residential streets being used as rat runs. But motoring groups say LTNs and other green schemes cause serious congestion as drivers are bottlenecked on main roads.

They are furious at ministers for allowing councils to exploit powers introduced as a result of the pandemic to rush through anti-car policies, funded by the taxpayer to the tune of £250million.

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah (pictured) said: ‘This scheme is not improving air quality – it is making it worse. The low-traffic area in Lewisham has quadrupled traffic on the South Circular road’

Mrs Kissi-Debrah lives 80ft from one of the country’s busiest roads – the A205 South Circular in Lewisham, south-east London – and says traffic levels have ‘quadrupled’ since an LTN zone was set up ten weeks ago. 

The mother of two said: ‘This scheme is not improving air quality – it is making it worse. The low-traffic area in Lewisham has quadrupled traffic on the South Circular road. The air is now intolerable and the area smells like a petrol station.

‘I want to know whether this was really what [Transport Secretary] Grant Shapps intended.

‘Some people rely on their cars to get around and there are people who don’t want to use public transport because of the health risk. You cannot close roads and expect the traffic to evaporate.

‘I am not against low-traffic schemes and I am not anti-cyclist. But I am against poorly-thought out policies that worsen pollution and harm our children’s health.’

Mrs Kissi-Debrah’s nine-year-old daughter died in 2013 after three years of seizures and 27 hospital visits. After reading of Ella’s death, Professor Stephen Holgate of Southampton University found pollution levels at a local monitoring station consistently broke EU limits for three years before.

In December last year, the family won a High Court battle for an inquest later this year to determine whether air pollution caused the child’s death.

Mrs Kissi-Debrah’s intervention comes amid growing anger at Covid-related road closures.

Ella, nine, (pictured) suffered a fatal asthma attack thought to have been triggered by illegal levels of pollution

LTNs have been blamed for a 153 per cent surge in congestion in outer London, where roads have been closed to reduce pollution and promote walking and cycling. Wandsworth Council in south-west London recently scrapped an LTN scheme after residents complained about pollution.

Bromley Council in south London has started legal action over road closures in neighbouring Croydon, claiming they have worsened traffic.

Other schemes – such as widened cycle lanes, pedestrianised streets and 20mph speed limit areas – have brought gridlock to towns and cities across Britain. 

The morning rush hour has returned due to the reopening of schools, figures show.

The number of cars on the road between 8am and 9am is back to pre-pandemic levels, according to the RAC. It is up 55 per cent compared with the week of August 24, before most schools reopened.

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