EIGHTY-TWO people die in York each year because of air pollution in the city, Government figures show, and now the city council wants to hear people's views on a new plan to tackle the problem.

A consultation is currently open on the draft air quality management plan - which features a Clean Air Zone to make sure that by 2018 80 percent of all bus journeys through the city centre will be made by low emission buses.

The plan is an attempt to address the Government figures which show that 4.8 percent of all deaths in York are attributable to poor air quality.

The council's cabinet member for health, Linsay Cunningham-Cross, has urged people to take up the chance to have their say on the plans.

At the heart of the plan, she says, is an ambitious aim to stop pollution harming some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

"It's hard to be exact on the mortality figures, because there are many contributing factors, but we know that poor air quality harms the very young and the very old, and people who have underlying health problems like asthma or COPD already."

The aim of the clean air zone, and its targets for bus journeys in the city centre, is to cut down on air particles emitted by diesel engines - which the WHO says are harmful to human health and cause cancer - as well as nitrogen dioxide emitted by all engines. It marks three "air quality management areas" where pollution is a particular problem - the city centre, the A19 south including Fulford Main Street, and Salisbury Terrace.

Cllr Cunningham-Cross added: "There's an element of realism here, because we are not going to get 100 percent of buses electric. But if we can tackle the high frequency buses first, that will make a difference, and we've made a start on that with the electric park and ride buses, and the electric tour bus which will launch soon.

"Congestion is a problem in York, but cutting that down is not going to be a solution to air quality problems by itself because there are always going to be some vehicles which want to go into the city."

For more information on the action plan, or the consultation which runs until Friday, January 2, visit www.york.gov.uk/airquality or www.jorair.co.uk.