Cambridge Greens say Clean Air Zone proposals are ‘music to the ears’

PUBLISHED: 05:42 15 January 2017 | UPDATED: 19:18 15 January 2017

Panoramic view of several college buildings in Cambridge, seen from the tower of St John's College

Panoramic view of several college buildings in Cambridge, seen from the tower of St John's College

Roberto Lo Savio

‘Promise us that people (especially children) won’t have to breathe the filth that we’ve been breathing’ say Greens.

A Clean Air Zone could regulate the type of vehicles allowed to enter the city.

It was put forward by the Greater Cambridge City Deal after it reviewed more than 10,000 individual responses to proposals it published last year – including controversial plans for road closure, which have since been shelved.

In the responses, many called for a solution to the poor air quality in the city. A 2014 study by Public Health England concluded that ‘particulate air pollution’ accounted for 47 deaths of residents aged over 25 in Cambridge in 2010.

The City Deal will consult this month on new schemes to introduce alongside the clean air zone.

Cambridge City Council’s Green Party seat-holder Oscar Gillespie said: “Talk of a clean air zone is music to my ears. The issue of air pollution has been ignored for far too long, and DEFRA have been an extremely soft touch. London has breached EU hourly limits for NO2 pollution within days of the new year. And we only have the weak controls that we do have on air quality through membership of the EU.

“The Greens have been calling for a congestion charge to reduce pollution for years, it was a major factor in the planning of the London congestion charge. If they want to call it a pollution charge instead of a congestion charge for political reasons, then fine. Whatever.

“Throughout the City Deal process I’ve been saying that pollution should be treated as just as high a priority as congestion, and I’m beginning to feel hopeful again. I’d like the City Deal to set targets for air quality which are actually below EU limits, to set a precedent that gives us some feeling that Brexit won’t become a race to the bottom that so many people are afraid of. Set hard targets 5% below EU limits, get air quality monitors outside all schools in the city, and promise us that people (especially children) won’t have to breathe the filth that we’ve been breathing.

“Of course the City Deal must offer carrots and not just sticks, so the pressure must not let up on reforms of buses, strategic planning including light rail, e-bikes and car clubs, and it must also elevate safety to the same status as congestion and air quality. The number of traffic accidents which have been reported in the city over the last year is heartbreaking, and I will not accept a logic that tries to plough far more people through our highways when they are already unsafe.

“Finally, I have an idea for improving air quality which I’m offering to the City Deal for free. Trees. They are incredibly good at purifying the air, so how about planting them instead of hacking them down?”

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