Council leaders in Greater Manchester have agreed a new strategy to tackle air pollution in an attempt to prevent thousands of premature deaths.
A meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) concluded with an agreement on updated versions of the city’s Low-Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP).
The new plans, which were also agreed upon by members of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee, contain a range of measures to improve air quality and reduce emissions across Greater Manchester.
These include upgrading the city’s bus fleet using the latest diesel and hybrid engine technology and trialling the ultra-low-emission buses.
The GMCA is also proposing to increase the number of EV charging points in the hope this will encourage the use of electric cars. They will review existing ‘pay as you go’ car clubs as well.
The eight-week public consultation on draft editions of the plans earlier this year received 180 responses, with 75% from members of the public and 25% from public and private sector organisations.
82% of respondents agreed or partially agreed that the LES and AQAP set out the correct proposals and policies required to tackle the issues.
‘Air quality and carbon emissions are two of the key challenges facing Greater Manchester,’ said the interim mayor of Greater Manchester Tony Loyd.
‘Air pollution and carbon emissions not only cause significant harm to the environment but can also cause respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.’
Mayor Loyd highlighted a study published last February by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health which linked outdoor air pollution to the deaths of at least 40,000 people across the UK annually.
‘It is imperative that we act now,’ he said.
‘Our new measures and policies will help to clean up our environment and improve life for people in Greater Manchester.’
Dr Jon Lamonte, chief executive of TfGM, said: ‘We have to do more to tackle air pollution in Greater Manchester – not just to meet UK and EU air quality thresholds as soon as possible, but because of the significant damage it does to the health of our people.'