Marvin Rees branded the air pollution crisis that is putting lives at risk in Bristol “unacceptable” as he called for Government action.
The extent of the ‘public health crisis’ caused by toxic fumes was starkly highlighted in a recent report that revealed the nitrogen dioxide levels in parts of the city to be twice the legal limit.
This week, the mayor joined other Core City leaders in signing a statement which says the Government’s Air Quality Plan is not sufficient to address health challenges and fails to give councils resources they need to make a difference.
They argued a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work on the ground and pledged to act to end the impact of poor air quality that equates to 15,000 avoidable deaths every year across the country.
Bristol’s Green councillors have played an integral role in bringing the pressing issue of air pollution to the forefront in the city and the group leader Eleanor Combley has welcomed the call for Government to give local authorities more powers to tackle air pollution.
“In the meantime in Bristol we must keep up the good work that has started since the Green Party motion in full council last November,” she told Bristol24/7.
“We should work up to the limit of what is allowed under current powers and not let a lack of leadership from central government stop us from doing everything we can to tackle a genuine public health emergency.
“The hundreds of people in Bristol dying each year from air pollution need us to act now.”
In a statement, Rees said: “We are calling on Government to work with us jointly and individually, to create a Memorandum of Understanding for Clean Air with our cities. It will set out how local and national leadership will work together, enshrining the principles of a new approach.
“Air pollution is a serious problem in Bristol and it is unacceptable that lives are at risk because of harmful emissions.
“This isn’t an attack on motorists though – it’s about our wider need to develop a transport system that works best for everyone.
“We hope this funding will help us develop effective and affordable ways to improve air quality, whilst taking into account wider transport measures and traffic congestion, and the impacts of future growth.”
He added that Lord Andrew Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, is supportive of the council’s ambitions for the city.
Main image: Campaigners calling for clean air in Bristol during a rally on College Green.