Failure to invest in city’s future
HIGH POLLUTION levels in Leeds, and hotspots like the M1 at Tinsley, explain why the Government intends to ban all new petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles from 2040.
Yet, with harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide proving to be a silent killer, cities like Leeds have been tasked with devising Clean Air Zones in a bid to enhance the quality of the environment in the shortterm.
However, while some advocate a blanket ban on diesel vehicles, Professor David Begg, the Government’s former transport advisor, cautions against this because of the potential economic consequences for lowincome families who can’t afford to swap their current car for a greener one in this supposed ‘motorway city’. His call for new rules and regulations to be limited to the oldest diesel cars, the biggest contributors to air pollution, is measured.
That said, policy-makers need to remember this. It’s not the fault of local residents that Leeds – now the largest city in Europe not to have its own light rail network – is so gridlocked that its suburbs are being choked to death by the city council’s inability to manage the flow of vehicles with better co-ordination of traffic lights and so on.
This stems from the collective failure of local, regional and national leaders over recent decades to invest in the city’s transport infrastructure. With Cambridge now looking to extend its rail network by building tunnels under its historic heart, where’s the ambition for Leeds? New stations, cycle lanes and bus routes amount to little more than tinkering when a major change in policy direction is required.