Leeds’ air quality shows continued improvement, new data reveals

Posted: 16 June 2023 | | No comments yet

Newly published data confirms the positive trajectory of air quality in Leeds, attributing the improvements to the city’s efforts in altering travel behaviours, implementing infrastructure enhancements and promoting cleaner air.

air quality Leeds shows continued improvement, new data reveals

Air pollution levels in Leeds have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to new data released by Leeds City Council. The city’s air quality has continued to improve as a result of various measures, including changes in travel behaviour, a faster transition to plug-in vehicles and major highway improvements.

Despite the progress, air pollution still contributes to an estimated 54 out of every 1000 deaths in Leeds. The council has approved new targets to further improve air quality, exceeding national requirements. Long-term nitrogen dioxide levels in monitoring locations have shown a decline over the years.

In 2017, Leeds had introduced a Clean Air Zone and provided financial support to businesses to promote the adoption of cleaner vehicles. This initiative, along with other measures, resulted in significant improvements in air quality. In 2021, only a small number of monitoring locations recorded pollution levels higher than national regulations, mostly in areas with limited human presence. The council plans to revoke five of the six Air Quality Management Areas in 2023, as they have become compliant with regulations.

Leeds City Council has implemented various schemes to tackle pollution, including the transformation of Leeds City Square and ongoing works around the city’s rail station to reduce pollution. A public electric bike hire scheme is also being launched to provide residents with a pollution-free mode of transportation. In addition, the council has introduced School Streets and plans to launch additional ones to promote active travel to schools. Local businesses have also been encouraged to use electric cargo bikes for sustainable delivery solutions.

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Furthermore, Leeds City Council has set out plans to reduce emissions from heating and provide green upgrades to low-income homeowners and private landlords. It is committed to raising awareness of air pollution’s health impacts and collaborating with the health and social care sector. Findings from the council’s pollution email alert service, online conference and further research on residents’ health needs has highlighted the need for engagement with healthcare professionals to address air pollution risks.

“It is hugely reassuring to see this new data, which confirms that Leeds’ air quality hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels and is continuing to get better,” said Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for climate and air quality. “Despite these improvements, 54 in 1000 deaths in Leeds can still be linked to air unhealthy air, so it is vitally important that we continue taking further action to bring down pollution levels even more.”

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Active Lifestyles, said: “Polluted air harms everyone, but some people are at a greater risk. Our latest research suggests that many of the people most vulnerable to the health risks of air pollution in Leeds may not even know it—emphasising the need for this work. It’s vitally important that we help those vulnerable people to be fully informed about this risk and understand what they can do about it. Alongside efforts to tackle the sources of pollution, we know that doing this will make a real difference.”

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