Air quality monitor to be moved to popular Derry park

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Derry City and Strabane Council will relocate a Particulate Matter monitoring station from Newtownstewart to the Jon Clifford-Bull Park area at a cost of £2,500 after the area was identified as having poor air quality.

Members of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee received a report which stated that air quality within Derry City and Strabane District Council area continues to meet the relevant air quality objectives at locations of relevant exposure. However, council has identified areas of poor air quality one of which is close to Brooke Park and Bull Park.

Committee members were also told that reduction in traffic volumes and the compulsory introduction of electric vehicles from 2030 will result in better air quality at Brooke Park and Bull Park and indeed throughout the district.

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Welcoming the monitoring station being moved to Jon Clifford-Bull Park, People Before Profit councillor Maeve O’Neill said: “A number of residents have been in touch with me about the poor air quality particularly around Bull Park and Creggan Hill.

Jon Clifford Bull Park in Derry.Jon Clifford Bull Park in Derry.
Jon Clifford Bull Park in Derry.

“We shouldn’t take air pollution lightly at all given its a major public health emergency and leading to countless deaths. The British Heart Foundation has warned that poor air quality contributes to 800 deaths a year.

“We are obviously waiting for the Clean Air Strategy coming from Stormont and that has been delayed but like a lot of research and findings show we aren’t monitoring enough at all.”

Proposing the recommendation to relocate the Particulate Matter monitoring station was approved, Derry SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said he would like to see plans to change mindsets on the use of cars.

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“As someone who grew up in this area it has always been an area where traffic congestion has been an issue,” he said. “What the report tells us is that it’s going to cost £2,500 to remove the existing infrastructure from Newtownstewart up to Jon Clifford-Bull Park but it doesn’t tell us how we are going to monitor it and how we are going to change it and that is where we need to get to.

People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O'Neill.People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O'Neill.
People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O'Neill.

“There is a potential to increase public transport in and around that area and encourage people out of their cars.

“It’s actually phenomenal the number of people that live in that area who would drive to the city centre and the traffic congestion in and around that area, for as long as I remember, has always been an issue.

“It’s going to take a societal change to try and address this but to get that change we have to encourage it, we have to have plans and incentives and I would like to see how we can do that.”

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Other key public parks in the Derry City & Strabane Council area include: St Columb’s Park, Brooke Park, Bay Road nature reserve, Ballyarnett Country Park, Kilfennan Park, Top of the Hill Park, and Claudy Country Park, Claudy.

A greenway network meanwhile is currently being advanced across the north west.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter