New green policies, such as introduces park and ride schemes and subsidising people who ditch cars for buses, are among ideas to improve Bradford’s air quality.
Air pollution could be responsible for 687 childhood asthma cases a year in Bradford, and exposure to polluted air during pregnancy can lead to a host of health problems for children.
Last year Bradford Council was given a Ministerial Direction giving the authority a deadline of October to come up with a plan to drastically reduce air pollution in the district. It came after it emerged some roads would not reach legal levels of nitrogen dioxide for nine years.
It led to the authority developing a Bradford Air Quality Plan to tackle the issue, and at a meeting of the Council’s Executive on Tuesday members were given an update on these plans.
Andrew Whittles, Programme Manager for the Bradford Air Quality Plan, said: “There are a variety of measures we can adopt to improve air quality – electric bus routes, investing in new buses with abatement technology, working to develop a better infrastructure for electric vehicles, subsidies for people who use buses, creating park and ride schemes, develop a Council vehicle fleet that has ultra low emissions, rolling out more rapid electric chargers across the district.”
The policy is being developed along with research project Born in Bradford, which tracks the health of thousands of Bradford’s young people.
At the meeting Dr Rosie McEachan from BIB told members: “We a re doing a lot of research into the issue of air quality in Bradford.
“It is a massive issue for children and young people, who are much more vulnerable to the problem than other population groups.
“Air pollution can affect a child’s birth weight, and that can lead to issues throughout their life.
“Around 40 per cent of childhood asthma cases in Bradford are attributable to air pollution.
“As well as health impacts it can have knock on economic impacts with a big impact on the health system.
“Families who live in some of the more deprived areas of the district suffer twice, as they are in a deprived area and are often subjected to more pollution.”
Members were told that there was a government fund to pay for improvements in Bradford and other cities and towns given ministerial directions.
Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “This is an absolutely vital issue – we need to make sure the young people in our district get the best possible start in life.”
She said she was confident the plan would be successful in obtaining government funding.
Councillor Sarah Ferriby said: “Improving air quality is vitally important for our young people. We’ve heard these startling figures from Born In Bradford about how poor air quality affects the health of younger and older people. We need to come up with ways we can work differently – we need to look at things in a different way.”
If the outline plan is approved later this year,it will be implemented in early 2020.