We need to combat air pollution

Trafford residents are being urged to do their bit to help cut air pollution in the borough as part of new public health campaign.

The call comes as many more parts of Greater Manchester including Trafford have higher levels of air pollution than previously thought.

A recent report reveals that 152 stretches of road in Greater Manchester will still be in breach of legal limits for concentrations of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) beyond 2020 unless action is taken.

This new analysis has been discussed by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as it looks to implement the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

And a new Greater Manchester public health campaign and air quality website – www.CleanAirGM.com – has been launched. This aims to raise awareness of the serious impacts of air pollution and show how residents, businesses and local authorities can work together to tackle it. The website gives the latest details on the development of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

Poor air quality is the largest environmental public health issue facing the UK. Road transport causes 80% of NO2 emissions at the roadside, mainly from diesel vehicles.

Pollutants are linked to a wide range of serious health problems, reduced life expectancy, and contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester alone.

Greater Manchester is one of dozens of areas in the UK instructed by Government to put forward proposals to tackle NO2 air pollution on local roads as soon as possible.

All 10 Greater Manchester councils are developing a single Clean Air Plan to reduce NO2 in close collaboration with Public Health England and the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU).

Cllr Stephen Adshead, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Climate Change at Trafford Council, said:

“Air pollution is killing people across Greater Manchester and we can all do our bit to help improve air quality and ultimately save lives.

“For example I think most drivers would be surprised to know that they can be exposed to more pollution inside their vehicle than pedestrians or cyclists. So on short journeys I would encourage people to walk or cycle rather than use their cars. For longer journeys people should be considering public transport where possible.”

“As a council we are already actively expanding the amount of cycle lanes we have across Trafford to encourage more people to leave their cars at home.”

Eleanor Roaf, Greater Manchester’s lead Director of Public Health for air quality, added: “Air pollution is the number one environmental public health issue in Greater Manchester. And it’s children, older people and those in poor health who are hit hardest by polluted air. But it’s not just them who would benefit from this problem being tackled effectively. Polluted air increases the chance of hospital admissions and trips to A&E. It’s harming our health and is linked to increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

“That’s why urgent steps need to be taken to ensure this issue is tackled as quickly as possible.”

Possible measures shortlisted by Greater Manchester in March 2018 as part of this process include: increasing public transport capacity; upgrading or retrofitting the public transport fleet to run on cleaner engines; increasing the use of electric vehicles through expanding the electric charging point network or financial incentives; better traffic management; encouraging use of alternative fuels; expanding and improving cycling and walking infrastructure; and potentially introducing Clean Air Zones, where the most polluting vehicles may attract a penalty payment if they are driven into certain designated areas.

No decisions have yet been made about the potential options for tackling air pollution. A further report on options for reducing NO2 levels across Greater Manchester will be considered by Greater Manchester councils and the GMCA in the next couple of months.