Leeds City Council has said it is confident upcoming plans will tackle pollution levels to be better than legally required after the area was ranked third worst in a rundown of national locations where vehicles are costing millions in damage to health every year.
A study by researchers at the universities of Oxford and Bath found that on average across the country, health costs from air pollution that could be attributed to a typical UK car running on fossil fuels over its 14-year lifetime amount to £1,640, while a van costs £5,107 over its nine years on the road.
While the capital topped the list at £650.4m, Leeds followed Birmingham in third place with £76.6m in costs.
Plans for new vehicle emissions charges in Leeds Clean Air Zone: Everything you need to know
A Leeds City Council spokeswoman today said: “Reducing pollution and improving the quality of air in Leeds is a huge priority for the council and we are working hard to achieve this. We are confident that our proposals, which we will be publishing later this month, will improve air quality and ensure that levels of pollution are better than the legal requirement.”
She said the health of residents “is extremely important to us” and the council is “very much aware” of evidence that long and short periods of time spent in areas with bad pollution can worsen asthma and affect lung function, highlighting the need to drive down pollution across the city.
She added: “We are working with government to gain the financial support that is needed to help individuals and businesses transition to cleaner transport options .”
The council consultation with residents about Clean Air proposals finished in March.
A proposed Clean Air Zone could mean charging buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet the latest emissions standards to enter the city.
Only last month Leeds was included on a list of UK cities seeing levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – largely from car exhaust fumes – peak as high as 102 microgrammes per cubic metre of air during 2016. The European Union’s limit is 40 microgrammes.