Councillor calls for independent investigation into the health impacts and long-term implications to local people from being exposed to building developments for several years at a time.
At this week’s Full Council (Wednesday 22nd November) Cllr David Hopkins will be presenting a motion entitled ‘Is Milton Keynes Killing me’, calling for an independent report to be commissioned via a specialist socio economic and health consultancy into the impacts of construction dust in particular on local residents often left to endure many years of continual housing and warehousing developments.
The item highlights the impacts on Wavendon which has grown from 320 dwellings in 2013
to 3300 dwellings in 2023 with 4000 more scheduled under the so called South East Milton Keynes urban expansion and on Woburn Sands which has seen a 50% increase in its housing stock over a similar period.
Cllr David Hopkins (who has tabled and is moving the motion) will observe in his presentation to Council that many residents (especially those living in or close to one of the many urban expansion areas of MK) have frequently commented to Cllr Hopkins regarding the levels of dust on cars, often only hours after washing them or the amount of dust that has landed on washing left out to air and dry. He notes that we tend to laugh it off or dismiss it as being a necessary evil and consequence of living and working in Milton Keynes, an area that has seen nonstop development for nearly sixty years. But, as Cllr Hopkins will ask the meeting to debate, are we right so to do?
Cllr Hopkins will also note that in his over 30 years’ experience as a School Governor, he has observed, with increasing concern, the increasing levels of dirt and dust in and around our schools, including the primary school where he is Chair of Governors and that he has a duty of care to those students and to the staff of the school for their health and general wellbeing. He also notes that likewise as a local councillor, both at parish and City Council level he and all of the MK City Councillors have a duty of care to the resident population in their wards (both settled and recently arrived) and to the population of MK in general.
Cllr Hopkins will invite councillors to examine the facts. He will note in his presentation that the Health and Safety Executive comments that ‘dust released into the environment is a significant concern for both the workers and people who live near the construction site. This is especially true for anyone that could be vulnerable to dust, such as people with asthma, Silicosis or COPD. Construction dust contains harmful particles, so keeping it from being released into the air is a crucial component of public health. When breathed in over time (and that is the crucial point here), dust can impact your lung health. Crystalline silica can be especially dangerous and can cause life-threatening damage to your lungs’.
Cllr Hopkins comments ‘My motion to Council should not be considered in any way contentious. It simply asks an important question, suggests a way forward and indicates that consideration be given to the impacts of construction on all those who have endured the burden of development over a considerable period of time by offering what in effect would be a planning holiday and thus enable (if you excuse the pun) ‘the dust to settle’ and communities to become established in a healthy, clean and relatively pollution free environment.’