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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-05-05

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Are the Government proposals to reduce air pollution - charity accuses ministers of abdication of responsibility?

THE UK Government on 5 May 2017 has produced a draft air pollution consultation  after a protracted legal battle with campaigners.

The Government is seeking views on these proposals in advance of preparing its final plan for publication by 31 July 2017. All final decisions will be taken by the incoming Government. The consultation will run until 15 June 2017.

The proposals suggest it is for local authorities to develop plans for clean air zones. There is also a suggestion that speed bumps on local roads could be removed, as well as other 'traffic management measures.'

According to the Royal College of Physicians, air pollution across the UK is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths every year.

The UK has struggled to keep within EU limits on some pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced by diesel engines and is linked to a range of respiratory diseases including asthma. Some 37 of the 43 regions of the UK are in breach of NO2 limits.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, the road safety and sustainable transport charity, said:- "These proposals had to be dragged out of the Government, who fought against it in the Courts, and lost. We will study the details in the plan, but the headlines give us cause for concern. It appears the Government has abdicated responsibility for reducing air pollution to local authorities. If any issue needs tackling on a national; and international; level, it's this. We have a national health emergency, and the Government is kicking the issue into the long grass. The idea that removing speed bumps on local roads will somehow reduce air pollution is both cynical and misguided. Most of the pollution comes from vehicles travelling on major routes, in big urban conurbations. Speed bumps are a red herring and the government knows it."

The rush to bring in 20mph speed limits might help to reduce road related deaths within built up areas, but ironically they increase toxic pollution. Reducing traffic speeds below 40mph may increase toxic pollution, says Transport Research Laboratory report Also according to AA research cutting the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph can pump up CO2 emissions by more than 10%.


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