St Albans campaigners call for more action for national Clean Air Day

PUBLISHED: 11:53 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 15 June 2017

Up to 65 people a year could be dying early as a result of air pollution in St Albans.

Up to 65 people a year could be dying early as a result of air pollution in St Albans.

Archant

Campaigners are calling for more action to tackle pollution for national Clean Air Day today.

Green Party councillor Simon Grover and Green Party members at the Peahen junction in 2014Green Party councillor Simon Grover and Green Party members at the Peahen junction in 2014

Air pollution has been linked to breathing and heart conditions, stroke and cancer, can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental development, and is causing 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.

Public Health England estimated that 5.8 per cent of deaths for people over 25 in Hertfordshire is due to dirty air.

St Albans air quality expert, Keith Cotton, says the country needs a new law to tackle the problem: “The last Clean Air Act was a response to 12,000 deaths in the Great Smog of the 1950s.

“We’re now looking at 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK caused by air pollution – that’s around 100 in the St Albans district.”

To also coincide with the national day St Albans district council (SADC), together with Friends of the Earth, has launched an anti-idling campaign.

It is training volunteer Anti-Idling and School Champions to spread their message.

Debunking idling myths is also on the agenda, including the false claim that restarting engines wears down parts and uses extra fuel.

SADC’s portfolio holder for business and community, Cllr Beric Read, said they are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by three per cent each year: “It’s important that drivers are aware that they can make a difference by switching off their engine when they are parked or stationary.

“We aim to persuade drivers of the need to change their behaviour, not to try and force them to do so.

“Keeping your engine running while stationary pollutes the air and wastes fuel. We also hope to encourage people to leave their car at home once in a while.”

Members of the public and community groups are also invited to contribute to the campaign with their own projects.

But Simon Grover from the St Albans Green Party is calling for more from SADC: “I’ve been pushing for anti-idling measures, clean buses and electric taxis, and it’s good to see there’s finally a bit of movement on this. But the council must do much more.

“This is an urgent health crisis.”

To become an Anti-Idling Champion or find out more information, email contact@idlingactionstalbans.org

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