Should public transport be free to cut shocking air pollution?

ktGreen MEP Keith Taylor has suggested public transport should be free to cut shocking air pollution after Parisian authorities make public transport free due to smog

Keith Taylor is calling on local authorities to consider making public transport free this weekend in response to a wave of air pollution hitting the South of England.

Keith Taylor, the Green Party MEP, is making the calls as the UK, and his constituency in particular, suffer a second day of high levels of air pollution. His call follows the decision by Paris’ authorities to make public transport free this weekend because of air pollution.

Mr Taylor said:

“I’m urging local authorities in areas hit by air pollution to do all they can to cut the health risks of this smog. In Paris the authorities are making public transport free as they recognise the dangers of high levels of air pollution.

Local authorities must do everything in their power to cut the air pollution levels, and in this emergency situation they should consider ways to make public transport free so as to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

It’s particularly crucial that the Mayor of London and the council’s in South East England look at acting immediately on the smog hitting their areas.”

According to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the current levels of air pollution in South East England are ‘high’ and are expected to remain so for the rest of the day. The rest of the UK is also forecast to experience ‘high’ levels of air pollution today.

At this level of pollution Government advice states that:

“Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.”

Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for South East England and a clean air campaigner, went on to say:

“This smog episode poses a serious threat to my constituents and I urge everyone, especially those with health problems, to follow Government guidelines in order to keep safe.

The fact is that we shouldn’t be needing ‘emergency measures’ to cut air pollution, we should be working to cut levels permanently.

This episode highlights the fact that we simply aren’t doing enough on air pollution in the UK. Every year nearly 30,000 people die prematurely because of air pollution – yet the issue isn’t taken nearly as seriously as it should be.

“People in my constituency with health problems are being forced to stay indoors and avoid exercise exposes. This exposes the fact that much more needs to be done by the Government and local councils to cut pollution levels. We know that most air pollution is caused by road vehicles and local councils need to work to reduce the amount of traffic in our city centres.

Nobody should be forced to stay indoors because of air pollution. That’s why we need to cut the amount of motorised vehicles, particularly those using diesel, on our city centre roads and move towards cleaner transport solutions.”

South East England hit by ‘smog’

Green MEP responds to pollution alert in his constituency

Levels of air pollution in South East England are so high that people’s health is likely to be affected, according to Government monitoring.

According to the Daily Air Quality Index, produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affiairs (DEFRA), air pollution in South East England is at ‘level 8’, or ‘high’.  At this level of pollution Government advice states that:

“Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their reliever inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion.”

According to the DEFRA website levels of air pollution in urban areas are at level 9 – just one point off the worst possible level.

Currently the highest levels of one pollutant, know as PM2.5, in South East England are:

Eastbourne – Level 10

Storrington – Level 9

Portsmouth – Level 8

Chatham – Level 8

Oxford – Level 7

DEFRA only monitors a few locations but the general pollution for South East England level is at 8. Continue reading

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DEFRA rethink air pollution testing changes

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Defra are now rethinking their changes to air quality measuring after a strong public response to their proposed changes.

You can download the Defra have report on the outcome of the consultation on their proposals to significantly weaken air quality reporting and control in England here.

They acknowledge that there is little support for abolishing the requirement for local authorities to declare Air Quality Management Areas in locations with particularly high pollution levels and they will now reassess their proposal and issue a new consultation in mid-2014.

A big thanks to everybody who took part in the response to this consultation – because of the big response from the public via a number of organisations it looks like Defra’s unacceptable proposals are being taken off the table.