Salford, Wigan and Preston showed the highest levels of air pollution in the country today ( Jan 24th ) yet there seems little concerted coordinated effort being made to tackle this public health emergency. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, mostly produced by diesel vehicles, have been illegally high since 2010 in the vast majority of urban areas in the UK
The UK government has lost three times in the high court for failing to deal effectively with the crisis and has been taken to Europe’s highest court.
Overall air pollution has been linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK and labelled a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. It is known to be a major risk factor for childhood asthma.
There is now clear evidence that air pollution – mainly from traffic and factories is linked to heart disease and lung problems, including asthma. As NHS costs continue to escalate due to poor public health – asthma alone costs the NHS an estimated £1bn a year
It is currently estimated that air pollution will make 2.4 million ill in England between now and 2035. And the health and social care costs of air pollution could reach £18.6 billion by 2035. (Telegraph Sep 2018)
While planting trees, supporting cycling, encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles all have a part to play in tackling a crisis that causes 40,000 early deaths a year GMKONP would like to see Greater Manchester adopt two measures as a matter of urgency.
1. Action to prevent car engines idling when the vehicle is stationary.
This often happens around schools and hospitals and results in a ten fold increase in the level of lethal fumes in the imediate vicinity.
The issue of engines not being switched off when vehicles are parked is, unbeknownst to many, already an offence.
Rule 123 of The Highway Code looks at ‘The Driver and the Environment’, stating that drivers must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.
Local authorities have the power to issue £20 fixed penalties for emission offences and stationary idling under The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.
However, it is important to note that this is imposed only if a motorist refuses to switch off their engine off when asked to do so by an authorised person.
2. Better Buses for Greater Manchester
Keep Our NHS Public Greater Manchester supports this campaign not only as it would help to reduce air pollution but also because of the need for (and current absence of) reliable affordable and sufficient public transport for people to get to/from hospital etc. This will only be worsened as services are removed from some hospitals and moved to others, meaning journeys become even longer and more difficult. So, please do what you can to support this campaign.
Buses in Greater Manchester are not working currently. It’s a wild west where companies do what they like. Another failed privatisation which has seen a 50% rise in fares and a decline in services.
Come to the first public meeting on Wed 6th Feb to find out more about how we can win, and join the campaign to take action for better buses.
With Jennifer Williams of Manchester Evening News chairing the panel, hear short talks from Neil McInroy, CEO of CLES, John Hughes, Councillor, Bus Driver and Unite rep, Helen, Rimmer, Friends of the Earth, Fatima Abid, General Secretary of the University of Manchester’s Student Union as well as Luke Raikes, Senior Researcher at IPPR North.
There will be snacks, time to meet others from your local area and feel free to bring the kids.
We have a huge opportunity to make our buses better over the next year. Come along to join the fight against the fat cats!
Plus, sign the petition here: https://betterbusesgm.org.uk/
Public meeting 6th Feb Eventbrite.