The government's new clean air strategy doesn't say enough about transport pollution
The government recently published its new Clean Air Strategy. It aims to cut pollution from different sources, and provide better public information about the quality of the air we breathe.
Dirty air is a danger to all our health. Being exposed to high levels of air pollution increases everybody’s risk of lung disease, and for people living with a lung condition, it makes symptoms worse.
Babies and children are particularly at risk as their lungs, hearts and brains are still developing.
We're pleased to see that the government has acknowledged air pollution as a public health emergency. They have made strong commitments to reduce pollution from a wide range of sources, including farming, industry, transport and our homes.
This new strategy sets new targets to reduce levels of PM2.5 – the tiny particles in the air that are too small to see, but can get deep into our lungs and enter the bloodstream. The government wants to halve the number of people living in areas with dangerously high levels of these particles. Currently, that includes 40 cities in the UK.
One of the ways they will do this is by cutting pollution from wood burning. They will only allow sales of the cleanest wood burning stoves, and will ban sales of the smokiest, most polluting wood and coal.
The plan also recognises the need to raise awareness about air pollution, and to provide all of us with better and personalised information about air quality and what we can do to protect ourselves. This is something we at the BLF have been calling for, so it's great news.
However, the new strategy doesn’t say enough about pollution from cars, vans, lorries and buses. This is the biggest risk to our health in towns and cities.
We need government and local councils to come up with new plans to clean up our air in towns and cities by restricting the most polluting vehicles. These plans should make it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport. And we need to see a scrappage scheme so people can trade in their old, polluting cars.
We will be working with the government over the next few months to shape this plan and make sure it does as much as possible to protect our health.
We have also recently launched the Clean Air Parents’ Network with ClientEarth to help parents and carers campaign for cleaner air to protect children’s lungs. You can join our network to get involved in our activities and campaigns.