A shock report on air pollution levels in Kirklees has led to a call to cut car use and encourage more people to walk or cycle.
An investigation by Huddersfield Friends of the Earth has revealed “concerning” levels of air pollution across Kirklees.
The group, which disclosed its findings today (Thurs) – National Clean Air Day – claimed: “If air pollution were as bad across the year as it has been for the duration of the study this could mean that some areas in Huddersfield town centre, Bradley Bar, New Mill and Huddersfield Road in Dewsbury would be blighted by illegally polluted air.”
It said: “Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but each year in the UK air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths and stunts the development of children’s lungs.”
The group also pointed to figures from Public Health England which estimates that in Kirklees air pollution causes an estimated 196 early deaths every year.
Friends of the Earth monitored nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels at a number of sites around Kirklees for several weeks. The legal annual limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. The group found levels exceeding 40 micrograms per cubic metres at Huddersfield ring road, New Mill, Huddersfield Road in Dewsbury and Bradley Bar roundabout.
Richard Cooley, of Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, said: “We know road traffic is the biggest problem – and diesel is the worst of all. Which is why we need bold action to get diesel vehicles off our roads and encourage people to walk and cycle more.
“Car manufacturers who helped create this mess need to cough up for a diesel scrappage scheme to help motorists shift to clean vehicles and alternatives to driving.
“It’s just not right that our children and grand-children are growing up breathing dirty air, which can actually lead to lung problems for life. We need clean air now.”
Huddersfield Friends of the Earth has put forward a 10-point clean air strategy for Kirklees.
Proposals include introducing Clean Air Zones in areas with high air pollution; refusing planning permission for new houses in areas of poor air quality near motorways and polluted junctions; increasing the number of charging points for electric vehicles; expanding the number of low emission vehicles in the council fleet and campaigning for electrification of the trans-Pennine rail route.
The group said it wanted to meet Kirklees Council to start working towards its goals in collaboration with the council.
Kirklees has a number of poor air quality zones that it has been ordered to improve. Unacceptable levels of NO2 have been found in Huddersfield town centre, Edgerton, Ainley Top, Birchencliffe, Outlane, Heckmondwike, Dewsbury and Birkenshaw.
The results of the investigation can be seen at friendsoftheearth.uk/clean-air/clean-air-campaign-air-monitoring-kit-results