Smart Transport

Over a thousand locations in England breached air pollution limits before lockdown

Clean air zone sign

A data audit by Friends of the Earth based on pre-lockdown information has revealed 1,360 sites across England that have breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels.

Areas in West Dorset, Sheffield and Brighton have all been highlighted as some of the worst locations for NO2 levels in England.

Friends of the Earth is campaigning to remove polluting vehicles from the road and clean up transport – to fight the climate crisis and to protect public health.

Although the most recent data shows a marginal improvement from previous years (last year’s audit found 1,591 English locations breaching limits) FotE said there is still “a shocking number of locations” exceeding the Air Quality Objective, which Local Authorities have to achieve.

The data has been accessed from the most recent local authority Air Quality Annual Status Reports (ASRs) submitted to Government.

Air Quality Annual Status Reports (ASRs) are compiled using the previous year’s data. This means that in most cases the most up to date air quality data was collected in 2018, but where a local authority has submitted its ASR using 2019 data this has been reflected in the audit.

Annual data for 2020 and the impact the lockdown has had on improving air quality will be released in 2021.

England locations ranked by annual average level of NO2 (in ug/m3) (the Annual Air Quality Objective is set at 40ug/m3)

  1. Chideock Hill, West Dorset 97.7
  2. Station Taxi Rank, Sheffield 91.7
  3. North Street Clock Tower, Brighton 90.8
  4. Neville Street Tunnel, Leeds 88
  5. Strand, City of Westminster 88
  6. Walbrook Wharf, City of London 87
  7. Hickleton opp Fir Tree Close, Doncaster 86
  8. Marylebone Road, City of Westminster 85
  9. Euston Road, London Borough of Camden 82.3
  10. Hickleton, John O’Gaunts, Doncaster 82

Simon Bowens, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Failing to fix air pollution costs lives.

"It also shows a failure to address the climate crisis because the sources and solutions are intrinsically linked.

"If ministers want to avoid a return to the health-damaging and illegal levels of air pollution we had before lockdown, their enthusiasm for ‘active travel’ needs to be a permanent switch and not just a short-term gap plugger.

“The Government must also end its damaging fixation on building more roads. You can’t justify this by planning to phase out polluting petrol and diesel vehicles and replace them with electric ones. We need to go much further than just getting out of one type of car and into another.

"Investment in better cycling and walking should be part of a fair and green post-coronavirus economic recovery plan aimed at creating a cleaner, fairer future.”

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Keynote speakers included: 

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry

Keith Williams, co-author of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, who spoke on rail’s role in integrated transport, decarbonisation and innovation.

Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, who discussed the future of transport and its pivotal role in a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic.

 

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