WITH Port Talbot this week assessed as the worst polluted town in the UK according to the World Health Organisation, Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas has bid for a new law to tackle the polluted air we breathe.
Air pollution contributes to around 2,000 deaths per year in Wales. It has been described by Public Health Wales as an urgent public health crisis, second only to smoking.
Levels in several communities in Wales have breached European Union regulations for several years, culminating in the Labour Government in Wales being taken to the high court by environmental campaigners Client Earth for its lack of action.
The Mid and West AM’s proposal for new legislation will protect the public from air pollution.
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas said: “Dirty air is killing our citizens and ruining our children’s lives. We will clean up our air and force the pace of change by introducing a Clean Air Act for Wales.
“The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has identified air pollution as a public health problem. Air pollution is causing 2,000 premature deaths a year in Wales.
“We need air pollution monitors in our towns and cities, particularly outside schools and hospitals.
“Clear air zones need a legal underpinning and this bill if it became law would help.It would ensure that only very low emission vehicles would be for sale after 2030.
“Local councils need to be empowered to issue pollution charges and encourage less polluting traffic, whether it be regulations on certain days or to certain areas.
“In Wales we need to improve our air quality monitoring, the Welsh Government should consider having real-time monitoring, linked to a website so people can gauge the impact that they are making by driving their non-hybrid cars and vans.
“The Bevan Foundation made an interesting proposal a few months ago to have free bus transport in our cities to cut emissions.
“We also should look at the use of hydrogen vehicles now in our towns and cities as a way certainly of improving air quality.
“We should consider banning heavy goods vehicles from our cities and town centres at particular times. At the moment heavy goods vehicles enter our towns and cities at the same time as children are walking to school.
“The new £20m Air Quality Fund has to be needs based that really deals with those most dreadful parts of Wales that are suffering from air pollution at the moment.”
This week Simon Thomas has met with Plaid Cymru MPs in Westminster to discuss the party’s Air Pollution week between 18th- 24th June.