A new report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published last week said that outdoor air pollution is linked to the deaths of at least 40,000 people across the UK annually.
This could mean that more than 2,000 people in Greater Manchester are dying prematurely each year from diseases and conditions affected by air pollution.
Now Manchester’s Interim Mayor has launched a public consultation on an action plan aimed at tackling air pollution.
The eight-week consultation on the draft Greater Manchester Low Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan provides the public and any interested organisations with the opportunity to have their say on a wide range of proposals aimed at improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions from transport throughout Greater Manchester.
The consultation is being carried out by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
The Low Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan propose a range of measures to improve air quality and reduce emissions across Greater Manchester, focusing on ‘key priority areas’ in urban centres and near major roads which currently fail to meet UK Government and EU air quality objectives.
Some of the proposals include the Upgrading and renewing the bus fleet, to take advantage of the latest diesel and hybrid engine technology, and trialling the latest ultra-low-emission buses.
Increasing the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points to encourage uptake of electric cars and vans and a review of the success of existing ‘pay as you go’ car clubs.
Developing large-scale urban distribution centres (UDCs) and smaller urban consolidation centres (UCCs). These would consolidate orders for one or a group of businesses located in the same area into one consignment for final delivery by low-emission vehicles.
Investigating the feasibility of introducing a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), targeting high-emission vehicles.
Improving and increasing the information and data on air pollution monitoring available to the public through the GreatAir Manchester website as well as Continuing the £40m+ development of cycling infrastructure across Greater Manchester.
Launching the consultation Tony Lloyd said:
The draft Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan set out a range of important measures and policies which can help use solve this problem.
“We want to hear the views of people and organisations across the city region to make sure we take the right decisions here that work for Greater Manchester and improve the lives of our communities.”
Poor air quality is a contributory factor in respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM) are the air pollutants causing most concern.
Ill-health can also have an impact on the economy, affecting the ability to work and reducing productivity, and air pollution and carbon emissions cause significant harm to the environment.
Greater Manchester already has an existing action plan to improve air quality and NO2 levels and carbon emissions are falling. However, without additional action, they will not meet EU legal limits in the near future and will continue to pose serious health, environmental and economic challenges.
Jon Lamonte, TfGM Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Greater Manchester has already made some headway in improving air quality and reducing emissions.
“But we need to do more to reduce air pollution as a contributor to ill-health in Greater Manchester, to meet UK and EU air quality thresholds as soon as possible and, ultimately, to make low-emission behaviours an important part of our culture and lifestyles.
“The need to achieve tough air quality improvement targets will require commitment from a range of organisations to ensure Greater Manchester’s continued development as one of the UK’s foremost city regions.”
The public consultation on Greater Manchester’s draft Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan runs from Friday 4 March until Friday 29 April.