OPINION: Manchester has recently recorded the highest levels of air pollution anywhere in Western Europe

17 September 2018

An open, informational letter by Manchester Green Party member, Sam Darby, based in Burnage.

At 11:00am on Saturday 8th of September, Manchester's central air quality monitoring station recorded the highest levels of air pollution anywhere in the whole of Western Europe.

The levels of fine dirt (PM2.5), which have an immediate temporary impact on the brainpower (cognitive processes), recorded the highest reading across Western Europe. These particles are so small that they can penetrate lungs and enter the blood stream to the heart and brain. This follows a recent trend of toxic levels of air pollution spreading across Manchester according to the city's monitoring stations.

Results are recorded hourly and relayed to Beijing where Chinese experts prepare hourly World Maps indicating air pollution levels. Beijing air pollution experts warned: "Active children and adults, and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion".

Government and EU statistics suggest that 6% of deaths a year in Manchester are caused by factors attributed to air pollution. Air pollution is emerging as one of our biggest health crises, causing an estimated 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.

The Green Party would tackle this by publishing a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century, cracking down on dirty diesel engines and reducing the need for private car usage. We would also bring forward the phase out of petrol and diesel car sales from currently 2040, to 2030 and implement an expanded, rigorously enforced, network of Clean Air Zones across England and Wales.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester and Local Authorities need to show leadership in creating the conditions for air quality to improve. We need:

  1. A wide network of continuous air quality monitoring in order to identify air pollution hot spots.
  2. A policy that restricts the development of nurseries and school in areas with high air pollution.
  3. A commitment to all new taxis and buses being zero emissions by 2025.
  4. The establishment of a Clean Air Fund that makes possible an ongoing public information campaign about the impacts of air pollution and the contribution people and businesses can make to it.
  5. A Greater Manchester Active Travel Fund that provides substantial and sustained funding for the development of quality walking and cycling routes.
  6. The development of one or more Clean Air Zone(s) that restrict traffic to low emissions vehicles in city and district centres.
  7. The appointment of a Clean Air Champion within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority who has responsibility for ensuring that action on air quality remains high.

In the UK, road traffic is the biggest cause of air pollution and diesel is the worst of all.

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