Diesel dilemma

Fail­ure to in­vest in city’s fu­ture

Yorkshire Post - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

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.

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