The air pollution in our towns and cities is stunting the growth of children’s lungs in ways which will affect them for the rest of their lives. That’s why I would like to see the delivery of a national framework for low emissions zones in every town and city that needs one.
Air pollution causes 135 early deaths each year in Rotherham and 29,000 nationally, more than obesity and alcohol, yet the Government has no plan to get air pollution under control.
Exposure to the level of air pollution currently found in our area causes cancer and cardiovascular disease. Studies have also shown that pregnant women who are exposed to these pollutants have significantly high risk of low birth weight babies, and poor respiratory health.
This is a problem crying out for government action yet in the past four years we have seen progress stall or reverse despite warnings from the Chief Medical Officer. Where we have seen progress is at a local level, where community groups, local authorities and universities have developed their own strategies to deal with the problem. However these local low emissions zone plans simply can’t be delivered until government provides a national framework.
The Government has had four years to respond to one of the most important risks to health in the UK. Instead their approach been described by the ‘Healthy Air Campaign’ which includes organisations such as the British Heart Foundation and Asthma UK, as “designed to mask the true scale of England’s air quality crisis rather than make any attempt to solve it”.
If your home or your child’s school backs on to a main road or if your commute regularly takes you onto congested roads then you are exposed to increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. This is simply wrong. Everyone should have the right to breathe clean air, but it is the responsibility of central government, not just the responsibility of local authorities to tackle the causes of air pollution.
Local authorities want to implement various forms of low emission zones but are being discouraged because there is no support from the Government.