Greater Manchester Combined Authority can’t see the wood for the trees
“Greater Manchester’s Air Quality Action Plan fails to tackle key elements of air pollution in the county”, says Pete Kilvert, Chairman of the Breathe Clean Air Group. “The report gives the impression that if they lower traffic air pollution then 40,000 lives will be saved.” Granted, traffic on Greater Manchester’s roads is the greatest culprit for producing nitrogen dioxide, a toxic and irritant gas which is already over the limit on busy roads. But air pollution caused by industry, incineration and power stations will produce even more dangerous particles and toxins.
The Breathe Clean Air Group has been campaigning for 6 years to prevent the building of the controversial Barton Renewable Energy Plant in Davyhulme. This plans to burn waste wood, biomass and other waste. This will produce masses of tiny Particulate Matter, which won’t even be measured, let alone controlled and will have massive ill-health impacts. The proposed plant is likely to emit form its under-sized chimney stack, other toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and dioxins. Something that the GMCA has failed to acknowledge. Further, the proliferation of domestic wood-burning stoves will affect the heath of the users as well as their neighbours.
New power stations in Carrington, industrial pollution and the threat from fracking and coal bed methane production has also got to be considered and controlled. Local Planning Authorities are allowing new, polluting schemes to proliferate. “If Greater Manchester wants to pat itself on the back, it ought to do something to reduce all air pollution to a safe level, for the sake of our health and the health of future generations,” added Mr Kilvert.
Life-saving air quality plans given green light
Source: TfGM http://www.tfgm.com/Corporate/media_centre/Pages/News.aspx?articleId=1030
Measures to improve air quality and help tackle thousands of premature deaths a year have been given. The updated Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) have today (Friday 29 July) been agreed at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
The documents, which were also ratified by members of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee on 15 July, will be finalised and published later this year ahead of the air quality and emission reduction programmes being implemented.
The Air Quality Action Plan, feeding into the over-arching Low-Emission Strategy, includes a range of measures to improve air quality and reduce emissions across Greater Manchester, focusing on ‘key priority areas’ in urban centres and near major roads which currently fail to meet UK Government and EU air quality objectives.
- Upgrading and renewing the bus fleet, to take advantage of the latest diesel and hybrid engine technology, and trialling the latest ultra-low-emission buses.
- Increasing the number of EV charging points to encourage uptake of electric cars and vans and a review of the success of existing ‘pay as you go’ car clubs.
- Working more closely with the freight logistics sector to explore opportunities to introduce more sustainable measures into GM operations.
- Investigating the feasibility of introducing a CAZ, targeting high-emission vehicles.
- Improving and increasing the information and data on air pollution monitoring available to the public through the GreatAir Manchester website.
- Continuing the £40m+ development of cycling infrastructure across Greater Manchester.
- Ongoing promotion of TfGM’s ‘Travel Choices’ programme to increase use of public transport, cycling and walking.
The GMCA approval follows an eight-week public consultation on draft editions of the plans earlier this year. TfGM, which ran the consultation, received more than 180 responses, with around 75% from members of the public and 25% from public and private sector organisations including environmental protection bodies, industry, trade associations and transport operators.
99% of respondents agreed that air quality and carbon emissions are important areas of concern for Greater Manchester and 82% agreed or partially agreed that the LES and AQAP set out the correct proposals and policies required to tackle the issues.
Public feedback was considered by TfGM and amended versions of the strategy and action plan produced for the consideration of the TfGM
Committee and GMCA. Additions included:
- Investigating further funding options to develop schemes that increase the number of people walking and cycling.
- Encouraging a greater change in public behaviour by developing more air quality and emissions awareness-raising campaigns, targeting schools, businesses and communities.
- Reviewing Greater Manchester’s parking strategy, considering measures such as electric vehicle (EV) uptake and workplace parking and how they would fit in with Clean Air Zone (CAZ) options.
- Looking at further promotion and development of green infrastructure, such as ‘green screens’ for schools. The screens, which use plants such as ivy, are grown up strong metal mesh before being planted on-site. Their installation can help reduce air pollution and absorb noise.
Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd, said: “Air quality and carbon emissions are two of the key challenges facing Greater Manchester. Air pollution and carbon emissions not only cause significant harm to the environment but can also cause respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
“In fact, a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, published in February this year, linked outdoor air pollution to the deaths of at least 40,000 people across the UK annually. It is imperative that we act now. Our new measures and policies will help to clean up our environment and improve life for people in Greater Manchester.
Dr Jon Lamonte, Chief Executive of TfGM, said: “We have to do more to tackle air pollution in Greater Manchester – not just to meet UK and EU air quality thresholds as soon as possible, but because of the significant damage it does to the health of our people. Ultimately, we need to make low-emission behaviours an important part of our culture and lifestyles. That will require the commitment of a range of organisations as we continue to grow as one of the UK’s foremost city regions.
“That’s precisely what these measures will drive forward. It’s encouraging to have broad support for them and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in the consultation and give beneficial insights and opinions. We can now start to put them into practice – which is great news, and an important step in the right direction.”
The LES and AQAP will be progressed alongside the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 – a draft of which is currently out for public consultation. This long-term strategy sets out plans to create a cleaner, greener, more prosperous city region through better connections and simpler travel. Find out more and join in the conversation at tfgm.com/2040. All comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration before the 2040 Transport Strategy is finalised later this year.