100 groups unite to call on Government to act over air quality

By Alice Neil

A campaign group has united more than 100 organisations to call on the Government for cleaner air.

The Brixton based clean air group, Mums for Lungs, has written to the environmental secretary, George Eustice, to take immediate action to combat London’s air pollution.

More than 100 campaign groups and businesses from across the UK, including Clean Air Dulwich, Better Streets for Southwark, and Lambeth Friends of the Earth have written to the Government calling on them to set legally binding targets for air quality in the Environment Bill.

The letter states that too many people remain unaware of the serious effects toxic air can have on people’s health, especially children and people with underlying health conditions.

This follows the inquest into nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death, which found it to be a result of dangerous levels of air pollutants close to her home near the South Circular Road in Forest Hill, Lewisham.

Ella has become the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.

The groups are concerned that if the Government does not act now by setting enforceable clean air targets, millions more people will continue to face poor health effects both now and in the future.

Jane Dutton, from Mums for Lungs, said: “It is a scandal that the Government has done so little about air pollution in the 10 years since the UK have been in breach of legal limits.

“Today’s children are suffering from bronchiolitis, asthma, stunted lungs and more because the Government will not act on all the evidence to date.

“They have said that their Environment Bill will make them world leading – now we and the 100+ groups from across the UK who have signed this letter want to see this translated into action.

“We all have a right to clean air; we urge the Government not to delay any longer, and not to deny the current generation of children the right to grow up breathing clean air.”

This comes at the same time as the ruling by the Supreme Court giving the green light for a third runway at Heathrow airport, which threatens to worsen the air pollution in surrounding areas.

Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs said: “This judgment is really disappointing.

“To increase the capacity of an airport during this climate emergency is completely wrong.

“Mums for Lungs also opposes the Heathrow expansion because of its impact on air pollution.

“The area around Heathrow is an air pollution hotspot blighted by illegal levels of NO2 and very high levels of particulate matter, from the planes and the high levels of road traffic to and from the airport.

“These pollution levels are not expected to reduce significantly, despite the understanding of the many irrepressible health impacts of air pollution for everyone’s health: asthma, cancer, dementia and many more illnesses can be linked to air pollution.

“We need to start treating air pollution as the public health crisis that it is.”

Pictured top: Founder of Mums for Lungs Jemima Hartshorn with her children Lea and Trissie


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