Green Party candidate, Darren Hall, has today pledged to monitor air quality outside all inner city schools and make the data available to the public, if elected as West of England mayor. Mr Hall launched the pledge today outside Ashley Down School in Bristol, where air pollution is known to breach legal limits.
The pledge comes as public concern over the health risks posed by air pollution mount and the issue remains high up the political agenda. The impacts of air pollution are known to be particularly severe for babies and young children; air pollution restricts lung growth and can therefore have life-long impacts. The crisis is so severe in some areas that health professionals have advised parents to cover buggies, and some schools are choosing to keep children indoors rather than let them play outside. Darren Hall said:
“For too long the Government has ignored this invisible killer, hoping the public won’t notice the effects. But research shows more people in Bristol are dying as a direct result of toxic air than they are in road traffic accidents, with the health impacts of air pollution costing the NHS millions.
“Monitoring will allow us to identify poor air quality hotspots and this is a key element of a wider Green Party strategy to tackle air quality and congestion, which includes the implementation of Clean Air Zones for Bristol and Bath and an Integrated Transport Authority across the region.
“We have to confront this public health crisis head on. We must restrict large diesel vehicles from the roads near our homes and schools and create the right environment and incentives so that more people use public transport or cycle and walk.”
Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, and Cllr Eleanor Comley, leader of Bristol City Council Green group, will join Darren Hall outside Ashley Down school to speak to parents and hear their concerns about air pollution.
Dr Scott Cato recently took the government to task over their attempts to use the general election as a reason for delaying publishing an action plan to tackle the air quality crisis , something they had been ordered to do by the European Commission and a court case involving Environmental lawyers from ClientEarth. She said:
“That it has needed the European Commission and ClientEarth to drag the government through the courts to account for a public health crisis is a shameful indictment of the Conservatives’ irresponsible and deadly apathy. The government readily acknowledges that any positive air quality action it has been forced to take has been driven by EU law. But the Prime Minister’s plans for an extreme Brexit puts those vital EU safeguards at risk. This is why the Green Party is demanding a Clean Air Act to ensure that the government cannot avoid its moral and environmental responsibilities to tackle our toxic air.”
The High Court ruled against the government last week when it attempted to delay publishing plans for tackling air pollution . It is now expected to publish draft air quality plans this Friday.