• Air quality - a key health issue

    Parliament's green watchdog, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, has come out and condemned the coalition government for putting thousands of lives at risk by trying to water down EU air quality rules, instead of prioritising action to cut pollution on UK roads.

    Dangerous levels of particulate matter and chemicals in th air are contributing to tens of thousands of early deaths every year in UK cities. 30,000 deaths in the UK were linked to air pollution in 2008, with 4,000 in London alone. It's perhaps surprising then that business plans produced by the Department for Transport and Defra do not even mention air quality, and this is despite a commitment in the coalition agreement to work towards full compliance with EU air quality standards.

    The Government will be able to pass EU fines for air pollution breaches to local authorities, subject to new procedures in the Localism Bill. Furthermore, they claim that councils have the tools available to improve air quality. However, the Committee's report raises a number of concerns about the ability of councils to tackle this problem without coordination and assistance from central Government, pointing out that the causes of poor air quality are often beyond an individual authority's control.

    Joan Whalley MP points out that " the Government should help local authorities remove the most polluting vehicles from our streets, by introducing a national framework for low-emissions zones." Caroline Lucas MP adds "Ministers must take urgent action to improve air quality across the UK - and step up efforts towards a greener transport policy, to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport."

    It is nothing short of a national scandal that so many people continue to die from air pollution - much of it from vehicles - in the UK in 2011. Who is taking responsibility for this? What's more, it is often the poorest people in our cities, living near the busiest roads, who have to breath in vehicle fumes, dangerous chemicals and bits of tyre.

    The 20s Plenty for Peterborough campaign recgonises the importance of reducing these emissions through slower traffic speeds, and wants to see improved health outcomes for our city's people, wherever they live.

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20's Plenty for Peterborough

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