Demand ambitious action on toxic air in Greater Manchester
We're demanding ambitious action in Greater Manchester. Sue, from our policy team, explains why and how we need to tackle air pollution. And what you can do to help improve the air quality in Greater Manchester.
For many people, mention air pollution and they think of London. In fact, toxic air is at very high levels across a number of UK towns and cities - 75% of areas measured last year were still breaching legal limits for nitrogen dioxide and 36% of local areas have levels of particulate matter over the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Greater Manchester is one of these areas
There are 2.8 million people living in Greater Manchester who are all being put at risk by health threatening levels of pollution. This is a health crisis that contributes to up to 1,700 premature deaths in the region every year.
Toxic air can increase all our risk of lung cancer, stunt the growth of children’s lungs and worsen existing lung conditions. We know that poeople living with existing lung conditions, children and older people are being hit the hardest.
Tougher action is needed
The local authorities in Greater Manchester have worked together to develop a clean air plan to improve air quality across the region. This will see some of the most polluting vehicles being charged to enter the area through a clean air zone.
Evidence shows these zones can be really effective in tackling toxic air if they are ambitious enough. Unfortunately, we think the zone that has been proposed falls far short of this ambition. It fails to set out charging for private vehicles that are the single biggest polluter on Greater Manchester’s roads. Additionally, the plan won’t start making a dent in toxic air levels until 2024 – another four years of harm.
The plan needs to include not just financial incentives to help taxis and bus companies to change to cleaner vehicles, but also incentives for walking and cycling. We don’t just need greener vehicles, we need fewer vehicles on the roads of Greater Manchester. These should include incentives for alternative and inclusive options such as ebikes and public transport season ticket loans.
The change we want to see
Across Great Manchester we also want to see a commitment to reach WHO levels for particulate matter (PM2.5) by 2030. PM2.5 is the most harmful type of pollutant for our health, yet these plans fail to set out how it is going to be lowered. They solely focus on reaching legal levels for nitrogen dioxide, rather than tackling all sources. There is no safe level of pollution to breathe in, so it is critical they take a wider look at all types of pollutants.
Please just take 2 minutes to tell your local leader in Greater Manchester to take bolder and faster action on toxic air.