‘It’s time to tackle air pollution’: Manchester group back Supreme Court order

A Manchester environmental group has backed a Supreme Court order demanding the Government develop a new plan to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

More than one in twenty adult deaths (5.1%) in the city are caused by air pollution every year, something which Manchester Friends of the Earth believe is an urgent issue.

The group’s sustainable transport campaigner Pete Abel explained that the current situation was placing a burden on the already strained NHS and called for greener transport.

“Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people prematurely each year in the UK, and puts extra strain on our beleaguered NHS,” he said.

“The Government has now been instructed by the Supreme Court to come up with an urgent action plan to stop people choking on dirty air and end this national disgrace.

“It’s time to tackle the main cause of this pollution, which is too much dirty traffic, by encouraging cleaner vehicles and getting more people on to bikes, buses, trains.”

The Public Health England website indicates that 1,347 deaths a year are attributed to air pollution in Greater Manchester.

But when the estimates for the deaths caused by Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution are released it is likely that the figure for the region will be much higher.

Andrew Wood, Co-ordinator Network for Clean Air believed that there were numerous ways to solve the problem.

“Most air pollution is from traffic and we need investment in traffic reduction, zero emission vehicles including buses, and improvements to cycling and walking for better health,” he said.  

“An effective air quality plan might include low emission zones, reduced vehicle speeds, congestion charging, a workplace parking levy, retrofitting buses with emission controls, and travel plans for workplaces & schools.”

In May 2013, Client Earth won a legal challenge at the Supreme Court which confirmed that the UK Government is in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive leaving the UK open to enforcement action at the national or European level.  

The UK had failed to meet the 2015 air quality deadline and it was acknowledged that most urban regions and cities, including Manchester, would not comply with the EU Air Quality Directive until 2020.

But it appears that areas of Greater Manchester’s will still breach safe air quality levels beyond 2020.

Manchester Friends of the Earth have been involved in a ‘citizen science’ project with the assistance of the Network for Clean Air monitoring the Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in four areas – Rusholme, Fallowfield, Stockport (St Mary’s Way) and Bradford ward.

The monitoring data from the project can be found on their website by clicking here

Image courtesy of Senor Codo, with thanks.

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