Green campaigners say High Peak is breaching air pollution limits

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Safe air pollution limits are being breached in High Peak, according to new analysis.

Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth has analysed council reports on nitrogen dioxide in the air at monitoring sites across England.

The audit found four places in High Peak where the average level of nitrogen dioxide exceeded 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air in 2018, the latest year for which data is available.

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The average must be below 40 to meet government air quality targets, while World Health Organisation guidelines set this as a safe limit to protect public health.

Friends of the Earth say four areas in High Peak are breaching air pollution limitsFriends of the Earth say four areas in High Peak are breaching air pollution limits
Friends of the Earth say four areas in High Peak are breaching air pollution limits

According to Friends of the Earth, road traffic is the leading cause of nitrogen dioxide pollution, which can inflame the lining of the lungs and reduce immunity to infections such as bronchitis.

Nationally, 1,360 sites failed to meet the 40 micrograms target.

Although this was down from 1,591 the previous year, Friends of the Earth said the figure was still shocking.

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Simon Bowens, the group’s clean air campaigner, said: “Failing to fix air pollution costs lives.

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“If ministers want to avoid a return to the health-damaging and illegal levels of air pollution we had before lockdown, their enthusiasm for ‘active travel’ needs to be a permanent switch and not just a short-term gap plugger.”

The Government recently announced plans to boost cycling and walking, including a £2 billion pledge to build thousands of miles of bike lanes.

But environmental campaigners have criticised a separate commitment to invest £27 billion in roadbuilding over the next five years.

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Mr Bowens added that the Government must ‘end its damaging fixation on building more roads’.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 – emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 33 per cent and are at their lowest level since records began.

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“But we know there is more to do, which is why we are taking urgent action to curb the impact air pollution has on communities across England through the delivery of our £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution.”