Bradford Council plan to cut air pollution as health fears raised (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford Council plan to cut air pollution as health fears raised
Bradford looks set to become the first city in West Yorkshire and only the second in the country to enforce a hard-hitting action plan to slash air pollution, which causes one in 20 deaths in the district.
Traffic fumes and exhaust emissions have been blamed for the area’s “substantially” higher than average death rate for a debilitating type of lung disease, according to Bradford Council’s new Low Emission Strategy (LES).
Two years ago, the authority was awarded a grant of £102,000 from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) – the largest amount of cash given to a single authority – to draw up plans to tackle the problem and cut the number of people in Bradford at risk from the effects of air pollutants.
The focus of the LES is road transport, which accounts for about ten per cent of the Council’s emissions and more than 20 per cent of the emissions generated in the district.
If approved by the Council’s executive next Tuesday, Bradford would become the second authority after York to implement its own pollution-busting strategy.
Council leader David Green said it was important to take action on air pollution because of the “significant health issues” in the district.
“Clearly anything that can be done to reduce emissions is going to have a long-term benefit on the lives of people in the district.
“Some of the health statistics clearly show the significant health issues we need to address and this is one part of that.
“We must reduce harmful emissions, most of which come from exhausts.”
A report to the committee says that while large areas of the district enjoy some of the best air quality in the UK, urban areas experience “significant” air quality problems because of emissions from traffic.
Mayo Avenue, Thornton Road, Manningham Lane and Shipley Airedale Road are named as hotspots with high levels of nitrogen dioxide, largely caused by congestion, heavy goods vehicles, buses and diesel passenger cars.
Ideas suggested to tackle the problem include introducing low emission zones, which would only allow buses or HGVs to enter if they meet green standards.
According to the document, one area that would be examined includes looking at options for directing HGVs travelling through Bradford away from Manningham Lane and on to Canal Road.
Other proposals include: l Encouraging freight companies to take up low-emission vehicle technology, including natural gas and dual fuel vehicles.
* Developing agreements with bus companies to speed up the take-up of cleaner vehicle technologies through incentives, facilities and enhanced green fuel infrastructure.
* Promoting the production of renewable energy, like biomethane produced by organic waste.
* Supporting car-sharing schemes.
* Encouraging people to cycle.
* Applying for grants to fund a networking of charging points for electric cars.
Councillor Andrew Thornton, the Council’s executive member for environment, sport and sustainability, said: “The strategy sets out how the Council will work with key partners, the public and private sector to put in place measures that will reduce the impact of road transport emissions on public health.
“It will lead to health benefits for people living and working in Bradford as well as doing less harm to the environment.
“This will include such activities as transport planning, cycling policy, fleet procurement and management, waste management, land use planning, raising public awareness and promoting best practice.
“The strategy will deliver a number of benefits and help us build partnerships with business and the community and other local authorities to achieve cleaner air in Bradford and the rest of West Yorkshire.”
The report reveals that a “high number of people in Bradford are at risk from the effects of the high pollutant concentrations in the city”.
Hospital admissions for asthma in the city are branded “particularly high”, at 1.6 per 1,000 people, compared with 1.1 per 1,000 for England.
And the number of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease admissions is said to be “far higher” than the national average of 2.0, at 2.6 per 1,000.
There were 853 emergency admissions for asthma and 1,403 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the city in the last year.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Council’s Conservative group, said he was not aware of the strategy, which had been subject to consultation earlier this year.
“You would think that as the leader of the opposition group I would have been briefed about this by officers,” he said.“The consultation was clearly excellent then, wasn’t it, because I knew nothing about it. Obviously I await to see the details, but I’m sure that the Labour Council will force it on the district.”
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said the Council should be focusing on its budget, which will bring job losses and cuts to existing services with total savings of a £89 million needed over the next two financial years.
“This is on the same agenda where the Council finances appear to be in meltdown,” she said.
“This should not be a priority for Council spending at the moment, at a time when the executive should be focusing on the 2,000 vulnerable people across the district who are about to have their services taken away from them.”
The document said the LES was important for the Council to show it is tackling air pollution.
The EU is expected to take action against the UK Government for breaching the Air Quality Directive in a number of areas, including West Yorkshire, which has the fourth-highest level of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide in the UK.
The Council fears if the Government is fined for these breaches, they could be passed down to local authorities for not doing enough to improve air quality in their areas.
But the report said the LES could be used to show it has not “demonstrably caused or contributed” to the infraction.
Work has also started on a West Yorkshire LES after Bradford Council submitted a bid to DEFRA on behalf of all five West Yorkshire authorities and was awarded £150,000.
The councils will work with West Yorkshire Transport Emissions Group, the West Yorkshire Transport Board, Metro and Public Health England to combat air pollution across the district.
The LES follows on from the adoption by Bradford Council of an Air Quality Strategy in April 2011.