Mayor calls for ‘clean air revolution’
West Midlands mayor Andy Street has called for a coalition to tackle air pollution in the region.
Street was speaking after a Birmingham City Council proposal for a clean air zone in the city centre was announced this week.
The scheme is still to be debated by the council but, if passed, would see the most polluting vehicles charged to enter the zone.
Street said the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the wider region had its own part to play in tackling the problem.
He said: “Air quality is a public health crisis which needs urgent action here in the West Midlands.
“1,600 premature deaths each year in the West Midlands are caused by air pollution.
“It’s sadly true that some of our roads have higher levels of pollution than bus depots in the region.
“We need a ‘Clean Air Revolution’ to tackle this issue head-on. We have the opportunity to build a coalition of Government, councils, industry, universities and residents to lead the clean air agenda in the West Midlands, the UK and the world.
“Birmingham City Council has taken the bold step of proposing a Clean Air Zone for the city, and residents and other groups have the opportunity to make their views known in the next few weeks on how we tackle the air quality challenge in Birmingham.”
Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said:“Clean air is a basic human right and yet poor air quality is responsible for hundreds of early deaths in Birmingham each year. This is completely unacceptable and we cannot allow it to continue, which is why we are now looking to consult on plans for a Clean Air Zone in the city.”