Representatives from Leicester and Nottingham are amongst a cross-party group of political leaders from across the country calling for Government support to tackle air pollution, and giving small firms up to £6,000 to make it happen.
More than a dozen Mayors and political leaders have today joined forces to call for the Government to support a network of 30 new and existing Clean Air Zones, where the most polluting vehicles are fined. A report released by UK100, a network of local leaders, shows that towns and cities could see an economic return of £6.5bn with support from the Government to tackle levels of air pollution.
They say a national network of up to 30 Clean Air Zones across England could be enhanced and unlocked if an additional £1.5bn were to be committed from Government and business to tackle air pollution in the most polluted towns and cities.
The Royal College of Physicians has assessed that the costs attributed to health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution are more than £20bn per year. The group are urging the new Chancellor Sajid Javid to make an enhanced Clean Air Fund the centrepiece of a Spending Round in support of the NHS, which is due to be published this week.
With air pollution contributing to up to 36,000 deaths a year, the research shows that adequately funding existing Clean Air Zones and introducing new ones, which would charge the most polluting vehicles to enter towns and cities, could provide a boost to our health and the economy.
Under a plan called UK100 plan, lower-income residents and small businesses would be offered incentives of between £2,000 and £6,000 to either upgrade existing vehicles or get rid of their older, polluting vehicles and switch to a cleaner form of transport such as electric vehicles or public transport. As well as support for buying an ‘ultra low emissions’ vehicle, the cash could also be put toward car clubs, bike hire schemes or a public transport season ticket.
Polly Billington, Director of UK100, a network of local leaders that campaigns on clean air, said: “Cleaning up the air in our towns and cities makes sound economic sense and this study demonstrates that. It will boost the health of our communities and save the NHS money. Sensible investment by national government is needed to support local authorities to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads while ensuring that the poorest in our towns and cities are not the hardest hit by pollution and measures to tackle it.”