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Charity warns air pollution at 'illegal levels' in Wigan

As the UK marks the first ever Clean Air Day, Wish FM's learned that Wigan will have illegal levels of pollution in the borough's air until at least 2020 unless drastic action is taken.

Analysis by Friends of the Earth of the government’s new air pollution modelling reveals that eight local authorities in Manchester alone would still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2019, without further action being taken. Manchester City would still have illegal levels of air pollution in 2022 without further action.

With political uncertainty potentially distracting ministers from addressing the air pollution crisis, the environmental charity has today (15 June 2017) released maps that show which parts of the country will continue to have toxic air for many years to come if the next government fails to take urgent action.

Friends of the Earth is calling for properly funded, charging Clean Air Zones (CAZs) to be introduced by the end of 2018, covering all places where air is otherwise predicted to be at illegal levels in 2019 and beyond. This would mean 58 Local Authorities should be required and funded to introduce, by the end of 2018, CAZs to restrict the worst polluting vehicles from areas with illegal air pollution. This is a far higher number of CAZs than the five areas the government originally proposed (as well as separate arrangements for London) and many more than for the 27 Local Authorities the government is now considering.

Oliver Hayes, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said:

“Fresh analysis of the government’s own data reveals the staggering scale of this public health crisis.

“Shockingly, air pollution is predicted to continue damaging people’s lungs for many years to come. People in areas like Wigan would be breathing toxic air for the next five years without further action.

“The current government plans for cleaning up our air are shamefully inadequate. With 40,000 early deaths each year from air pollution, and children’s young lungs especially vulnerable, this is a sickening amount of suffering – much of which could be prevented.

“The government must do far more to protect the public’s lungs from this pollution, including urgently introducing Clean Air Zones by the end of 2018 for everywhere which would otherwise have illegally dirty air.”

Pete Abel, Friends of the Earth Manchester campaigner, said:

“The air we breathe is literally killing us. In Greater Manchester alone, over 1,000 people die early each year due to air pollution. It is pathetic that successive governments have failed to take on air pollution and have condemned people from Wigan to Tameside to worsening asthma, heart disease, and early death.

“We’re calling on MPs across Greater Manchester to stand up for our right to clean air. That means working together to bring in Clean Air Zones in places like Wigan, and demanding that the government commits to continued action to tackle toxic air, so that our children and grandchildren can breathe more safely.

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