Leeds council steps up efforts to reverse ‘pollution hotspot’ shame

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Two Leeds suburbs are to have their air quality monitored as the council bids to reverse the city’s poor record as a pollution hotspot.

As previously reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post, almost 700 people a year die in Leeds from illnesses related to air pollution, with an overall cost to the local health economy of £480m, according to claims from researchers.

The Government - which was recently forced to acknowledge its efforts were not enough following a court ruling - is now working on proposals for a Clean Air Zone for the city, with the latest report due before the council’s cabinet in the New Year. The zones could include restrictions and even extra levies on the most polluting vehicles.

The council is monitoring the air quality of the inner ring road and a number of other city centre sites.

And at a meeting of the authority’s executive board earlier today (Wed), Main Street in Pool-in-Wharfeedale and the Chapel Hill area of Morley were designated as new Air Quality Management Areas.

A report presented to the executive board said: “The vast majority of the city enjoys good air quality but there are a number of residential areas where the legal limit for [nitrogen dioxide] are exceeded.”

The report adds that while a “targeted approach” to improving air quality has improved things in some areas, leading to monitoring levels being dropped, the authority is also “declaring two new areas where air quality is problematic”.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, cabinet spokeswoman on environmental issues, said: “This is an issue that we as an authority can’t tackle on our own. It’s a city problem, not just a council problem.”

Council leader Judith Blake added that air quality was now a “major challenge” facing the city.