Campaigners call for city-wide pollution tax to save lives
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.