ENVIRONMENT minister Therese Coffey visited Southampton to make a national pledge.

Speaking at the National Oceanography Centre Ms Coffey announced UK plans to join the “global battle” in safeguarding the world’s coral reefs from climate change.

But speaking to the Echo she said “sorting out” a city roundabout “is key” to alleviating city pollution problems, and that red diesel used by “non-mobile” dock vehicles like cranes are one of the main contributors.

She said: “At the moment the tax treatment is very generous for them to use diesels and one of the considerations is that it’s holding back investment in cleaner off road equipment.

“That’s one of the things that may help the issue of clean air in Southampton.”

Adding that city pollution “comes back to the concentration of traffic along that dock road and Redbridge roundabout” she said air quality issues “tend to be stuck on the port apron rather than ships themselves” and “anything we can do to improve the cleanliness and reduce the emissions - whether it’s HGVS or cars - and sorting out that roundabout is key. That’s where a lot of the congestion ends up being.”

She added that “local solutions” are needed and that “somebody from Westminster “can’t dictate exactly what’s going to work here locally.”

She said freight consolidation has been considered in deliveries to the hospital and universities, but added that “careful assessment” is needed to make sure air quality is improved quickly.

Speaking to delegates on Monday morning Ms Coffey praised the “ground-breaking work” at the centre, and pledged UK commitment to the Coral Reef Life Declaration, - a bid at protecting the world’s reefs, which include four million square kilometres of ocean in the British Overseas Territories.

It comes just one week before the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, when members from all 53 nations will meet in London.

Ms Coffey also spent time with researchers from Southampton University, who are investigating the uses of coral in the fight against disease against cancer

Executive director of the Ocean Village centre, Professor Edward Hill said: “We are investigating the tropical coral reefs, looking at some of the pigments which could used for medical applications.”

There was also a photo opportunity with underwater vessel Boaty McBoatface - the underwater research vessel famously named by the public in an online poll