E is for Environment

There are numerous acts which have affected the environment at a local level but perhaps the most striking from the Springhill perspective are the Clean Air Acts.

The Clean Air Act 1956 was introduced in part to the Great Smog of London on 1952 which is thought to have contributed directly or indirectly to the death of 12000 people and caused major disruption to transport. It introduced 'smoke control areas' in towns, promoting the burning of smokeless fuel. Chimney heights were increased, particularly on power stations, in an attempt to minimise ground level pollution.

This was followed by the Clean Air Act 1968 which further extended the use of tall chimneys. It also increased the sanctions on local authorities which were slow to implement the 1956 Act. The Clean Air Act 1993 further extended these provisions. It also included the lovely definition of 'dark smoke', i.e.darker than shade 2 on the Ringelmann Chart:

Ringlemann chart

Historically factory pollution was an issue locally as this picture from Accrington demonstrates:

accrington 200

I am uncertain at what stage the Clean Air Acts were implemented in Rossendale. As a child every house had a coal fire with numerous chimneys pouring smoke into the atmosphere, even if most mills were not steam powered by then. I remember my mother and her friends discussing the implications of having to 'go smokeless' amid fears that coal consumption (and therefore cost) would increase and warmth decline.

Air quality did improve dramatically. In part this would be due to burning cleaner fuels but in part due to the decline of heavy industry in the area and the switch to central heating. Countering this is the rise of the motor car.