Analysis by Friends of the Earth of the government’s new air pollution modelling has revealed that local authorities would still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2019 without further action being taken.
The analysis also revealed that Bristol and Plymouth would still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2020 if no action is taken.
With political uncertainty potentially distracting ministers from addressing the air pollution crisis, the environmental charity has today (15th June 2017) released maps that show which parts of the country will continue to have toxic air for many years to come if the government fails to take urgent action.
Friends of the Earth is calling for properly funded, charging Clean Air Zones (CAZs) to be introduced by the end of 2018, covering all places where air is otherwise predicted to be at illegal levels in 2019 and beyond.
This would mean 58 local authorities should be required and funded to introduce, by the end of 2018, CAZs to restrict the worst polluting vehicles from areas with illegal air pollution.
This is a far higher number of CAZs than the five areas the government originally proposed (as well as separate arrangements for London) and many more than for the 27 Local Authorities the government is now considering.
Oliver Hayes, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: “Fresh analysis of the government’s own data reveals the staggering scale of this public health crisis.
“Shockingly, air pollution is predicted to continue damaging people’s lungs for many years to come. People from Plymouth to Bristol would be breathing toxic air for the next three years without further action.
“The current plans for cleaning up our air are shamefully inadequate. With 40,000 early deaths each year from air pollution, and children’s young lungs especially vulnerable, this is a sickening amount of suffering – much of which could be prevented.
“The government must do far more to protect the public’s lungs from this pollution, including urgently introducing Clean Air Zones by the end of 2018 for everywhere which would otherwise have illegally dirty air.”
Julian Jones, Friends of the Earth Bristol campaigner, said: “At the moment walking through the congested centre is a very toxic experience with traffic fumes contributing to asthma, heart disease, and early death.
“We are starting to work with Bristol Walking Alliance to make the city centre where a cleaner fresher place for pedestrians, cyclists and people who have to drive, which will also help local business.
“We’re calling on MPs across the South West to stand up for our right to clean air. That means working together to bring in Clean Air Zones in places like Bristol, and demanding that the government commits to continued action to tackle toxic air, so that our children and grandchildren can breathe more safely.”
In 2014, Public Health England estimated that 80 early deaths were attributable to air quality in the Bath & North East Somerset area in 2010.