AIR pollution kills as many people in York as road accidents, alcohol abuse and obesity combined, a new report has suggested.
City of York Council says the latest national analysis shows the number of premature deaths from poor air quality is between 94 and 163 in York.
Residents, businesses and transport operators are now being asked to help create a strategy for dealing with the potentially deadly risk of pollution in the city, but the city’s Green Party leader said not enough was being done.
From today until May 18, the authority will be asking people to influence a new Low Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3, making York the UK's first low emission city, by completing a questionnaire.
Proposals include ensuring only buses, taxis and lorries which produce the least emissions can enter areas of the city with the worst air quality, promoting use of environmentally-friendly vehicles such as those which run on electric or compressed gas, and looking at introducing freight transhipment and electric vehicle deliveries in the city centre.
Green leader, Coun Andy D’Agorne, said: “The low emission strategy amounts to a few electric charging points and continued monitoring of growing pollution, which is already in breach of European and World Health Organisation health based limits.
“ None of the main political parties is prepared to admit that the only effective measure to tackle this life shortening effect is to cut traffic levels.”
He said nitrogen dioxide pollution had steadily worsened in York since 2006 because council reports wrongly suggested newer engines would remove the problem with time.
He said: “All the ‘quick fix’ solutions have now been exhausted, major highway schemes are unaffordable as well as unsustainable, so cutting traffic levels has to be a key objective.
“Individual and collective action through schools and workplaces, by cutting car use through car sharing, increasing cycling, walking and public transport has the potential to make more rapid change than even dozens of electric cars in new developments yet to be built.”
Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for city strategy, said: “Poor air quality puts people's health at risk, creates an unpleasant environment for visitors, may damage historic buildings and places an additional burden on health service providers, so it's crucial we step up our efforts to address this issue.
Two air quality management areas have already been set up in the city centre and Fulford, and a third will follow on Salisbury Terrace later this month, with the LES set to be formally adopted in September. The questionnaire can be found at york.gov.uk/consultation