Cam­paign­ers call for city-wide pol­lu­tion tax to save lives

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

A NEW Birm­ing­ham pol­lu­tion tax must be ex­tended to across the city to stop 900 pre­ma­ture deaths a year, ac­cord­ing to Friends of the Earth cam­paign­ers.

The group will hand a pe­ti­tion to Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil de­mand­ing swift ac­tion to clean up Birm­ing­ham’s air qual­ity.

The coun­cil is mak­ing plans for a city cen­tre Clean Air Zone, with charges to be levied on heavy-pol­lut­ing com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles such as diesel lor­ries, vans and buses.

There are also ru­moured to be dis­putes among Labour coun­cil bosses be­hind the scenes on whether it should be ex­tended to some pri­vate diesel cars, but ner­vous city lead­ers have post­poned a de­ci­sion un­til af­ter the May lo­cal elec­tion.

Now Friends of the Earth is call­ing for the coun­cil to go fur­ther by look­ing to in­tro­duce a charge across the whole city, not just the cen­tre and to in­clude pri­vate cars.

Poppy Buck­ing­ham, Birm­ing­ham Friends of the Earth air pol­lu­tion spokesman, said: “Birm­ing­ham’s poor air qual­ity needs to be taken se­ri­ously and we need the best pos­si­ble plan in place to en­sure that the health of every­one who live, work and travel to Birm­ing­ham is pro­tect- ed. A wide-area Clean Air Zone must in­clude all ve­hi­cle types in­clud­ing cars as diesel cars are the big­gest sin­gle con­trib­u­tor to lo­cal road traf­fic which is the key prob­lem for il­le­gal lev­els of Ni­tro­gen Diox­ide air pol­lu­tion.

“Plans must also in­clude mea­sures to sup­port the Clean Air Zone such as im­prov­ing the walk­ing and cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture and im­prov­ing public trans­port. With­out mak­ing al­ter­na­tive travel eas­ier, it will be harder for peo­ple to use other forms of trans­port.

“The Clean Air Zone must be in place as soon as pos­si­ble be­fore the gov­ern­ment’s dead­line of the end of 2019, and we need to see much stronger com­mit­ments from na­tional Gov­ern­ment to help Birm­ing­ham and other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties de­liver cleaner air for all.”

The EU and Gov­ern­ment has or­dered Birm­ing­ham, along with many other UK cities, to get its lethal lev­els of ni­tro­gen diox­ide down to le­gal safe lev­els as soon as pos­si­ble. Fail­ure to re­duce pol­lu­tion could lead to a mas­sive fine for the city.

A clean air zone has to be in­tro­duced by 2020 and au­to­matic num­ber plate recog­ni­tion cam­eras have al­ready been in­stalled.

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