Bristol filmmaker says lockdowns are ‘opportunity’ against pollution

By Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley
Broadcast Journalist

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image copyrightPatch de Salis
image captionFilmmaker Patch de Salis said: "It's important to come with that younger experience and through me making the film my friends have learned something new"

A young filmmaker has asked politicians to look to the various lockdown periods as an "opportunity" to tackle air pollution.

Bristol-born Patch de Salis, 21, made Lessons From Lockdown to push his council to do more to protect people.

He said: "Babies' lives are still being impacted from birth so what are we doing about it?"

A Bristol City Council spokesman said plans are under way to quickly get to "compliant" levels of air pollution."

Bristol has long suffered from poor air quality, particularly from high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The council is now under a legal obligation to reduce NO2 levels to within legal limits.

image copyrightPatch de Salis
image captionLessons Learned From Lockdown looks at how air pollution in Bristol is affecting its residents using interviews from medical professionals, residents and academics

The authority will be submitting its final plans to the government for reducing traffic air pollution in the city by February 2021.

It hopes not to have to introduce a clean air zone (CAZ) if it can sustain the better air quality seen during the coronavirus pandemic.

'Chance to change'

Mr de Salis said: "Young people are still not told enough about air pollution and how it's limiting our lives in Bristol so I hope my film can be used as a resource to inform.

"Lockdown is an opportunity to fight air pollution so right now we have a chance to change.

"A lot of people started running during lockdown and using their bikes more, so the situation for pollution was better.

"We should try new things now whilst people are more conscious of their travel choices and health.

"It's horrible to know that in working class areas like Lawrence Hill people don't really own cars but it's the most hit by air pollution and that's just not right."

The council spokesman added: "We are continuing to work with citizens and businesses in the city to help sustain the less polluting travel behaviour we have seen during the periods of Covid-19 lockdown this year.

"We are continuing to pursue all options that will get us to compliance in the shortest possible time."

In the documentary, Bristol GP Dr Victoria Stamford says air pollution is a "silent public health emergency", causing asthma and reduced lung capacity in children.

She said: "It affects people across their lifespan and all systems in the body from cradle to grave."

Mr de Salis is looking to release a documentary on homelessness in Bristol in 2021.

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