Air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths across the UK every year and the majority of the population breathe illegally polluted air.
Parts of Yorkshire have a serious air pollution problem. Data from Public Health England reveals over 2500 premature deaths caused by particulate pollution alone in our county.
Air pollution triggers strokes and heart attacks, worsens cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases including asthma, causes lung cancer, is associated with changes in the brain linked to dementia, can affect growth of the foetus and may be linked to premature birth.
Air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society – the young, whose lungs may never develop properly, and older people, as well as the most disadvantaged in society and Black and ethnic minority communities.
Not enough is being done to tackle air pollution but, after three successful court cases by Client Earth and the publication last Summer of their Action Plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution, we are starting to see proposals coming forward across the region.
But are they enough?
Leeds City Council was required by Government to consult on and submit plans for a Clean Air Zone. However, their proposals contain no plans to address private cars, a smaller CAZ than originally planned and sunset periods delaying charging for a whole suite of polluting vehicles.
Elsewhere, Rotherham and Sheffield will be submitting a feasibility study into a Clean Air Zone by the end of 2018 and the remaining West Yorkshire authorities are required to submit initial studies by the end of July 2018.