Yorkshire fumes after topping air pollution list

Image: Friends of the Earth

Yorkshire is topping the listed for the worst air pollution outside London, according to a study by the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

It says five of the top 10 pollution hot-spots in England (outside London) are in Yorkshire (including all of the top three).

It found that 293 locations across the region were breaching annual limits for nitrogen dioxide.

After London, the worst areas for pollution were Leeds followed by Doncaster.

The north-west entrance of the tunnel in Neville Street near Leeds Station tops the pollution list with Fir Trees Close and John O’Gaunts – both off the A635 in Hickleton, Doncaster second and third.

Andy Walker, Yorkshire Party spokesperson on the environment, welcomed the study. “Clean air is every citizen’s right,” he said.

“These awful results represent a failure of both central and local government – both Conservative and Labour governments have delayed infrastructure investment and the result is that many areas are missing the target for clean air by a long way.

Andy Walker: Clean air is our right

“It is no coincidence that two of the most polluted places in Yorkshire have disastrous policies. Leeds is the largest European city without a metro system and Sheffield deliberately cuts down urban trees – and these have been the policies of democratically elected local councils.

“No single change will fix the problem – YP calls for the environment to carry a much higher value in policies ranging from transport to waste management and fossil fuel exploration. Central government’s failure to electrify rail routes and local government’s failure to address pollution as part of planning decisions both add to the problem but what is needed is a series of policies that work together to make clean air ‘normal’.

“We call for more open data from more monitoring stations – concentrating on schools. There is a real need to understand the true size of the problem and to publish it all as open data.

“Standards need to be updated to ensure that the really damaging, smaller particles are properly measured and reported.” he said.

Map: Friends of the Earth

FoE said that across Yorkshire and the North East, 22 local authorities had recorded air pollution readings above the official nitrogen dioxide limit, with seven of them (Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds) recording air pollution levels at least 50% higher than the limit.

Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth campaigner for Yorkshire and the North East, said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency that cuts thousands of lives short each year across Yorkshire and the North East, with children, older people and the poorest most at risk. Leeds City Council is currently consulting on a Clean Air Zone, but the current proposals fall short of what is needed.

“Local authorities across the region need to up their game and take the necessary action for the sake of our health and wellbeing. It’s also important however, that local authorities get proper support from central government, which has very much passed the buck when it comes to cleaning up our air.”


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