Air Pollution – Victims to be Fined for Threats to their Own Health
The Living Heart for Bristol has called on the City Council, and candidates for the mayoral elections to explain how they will improve air quality in the city, following the European Commission’s recent threat to prosecute the UK Government over air pollution in 12 cities including Bristol.  The Commission recently rejected a request by the UK Government for an extension to the 2010 deadline for complying with European limits on air pollution [1].  Under the Localism Act, local authorities can now be made to pay fines imposed by the European Courts [2].
 
In a separate decision, on Bristol’s bid for European Green Capital bid, the Commission commended Bristol’s “comprehensive air quality monitoring network”.  This monitoring shows that air pollution in central areas, and along motorways and major roads, frequently exceeds European safe limits.  The European limits were set following international evidence that air pollution causes: heart disease, lung disease and early deaths [3].  The main problem highlighted by the European Commission is nitrogen dioxide from vehicle emissions.
 
Spokesman for the Living Heart for Bristol, Steve Melia said:
 
“It’s ironic that the European Commission is praising Bristol for its air quality monitoring at the same time as threatening to prosecute the UK Government over air pollution here.  And the victims – the people of Bristol – could be fined, through the council tax, because these levels of pollution are threatening our own health!
 
The challenge for councillors and mayoral candidates is to say: what will you do to protect the health of our citizens living in central areas, and near the main roads? Our proposals to remove through traffic from the central areas will also reduce traffic on the main roads leading to and from the city centre, and encourage walking and cycling.  These must all be part of any solution to the scandal of dangerous air pollution here in Bristol.”
 
 The Living Heart for Bristol aims to improve the central areas of Bristol and create new public space by removing through traffic, whilst retaining access for all.  It was created by the following 8 organisations: Bristol Cycling Campaign, Bristol Green Capital, Bristol Living Streets, Carfree Bristol, Friends of the Earth, the Open Spaces Society, Bristol Ramblers Group and Streets Alive.  Several other organisations have endorsed its declaration – shown on www.livingheart.org.uk.

[1] See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/legislation/pdf/uk2_no2_en.pdf
[2] See: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/1829681.pdf
[3] See for example http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html
 

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