West Midlands Mayor Andy Street today (Thurs 15th June) pledged his support for the the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day (NCAD) and said tackling pollution was a top priority for the region.
The Mayor said investment in public transport, cycling and green vehicle technology were key to reducing carbon emissions and other air pollutants.
Commenting as the National Clean Air Day got underway, he called for proposals for a diesel car scrappage scheme in London to be extended to the West Midlands.
He said: “Air pollution in towns and cities here is a really serious issue and a genuine concern for people.
“We need to encourage different behaviour. In the short term we need to encourage people not to use their cars – and that means giving people a choice, an alternative to driving their own vehicles and contributing to this issue.
“In London, for example, there are proposals for a scrappage scheme for diesel cars and we would need that to be extended to the West Midlands.”
The Mayor added that the West Midlands was already a leading player in developing new vehicle technology.
“In the long term, our region has the potential to help solve the problem of traffic emissions in a dramatic way,” he said.
“What we’ve got to do is move away from the traditional combustion engine. Here in the West Midlands, the UK’s centre for automotive manufacturing, we’re leading the UK’s thinking in moving from the traditional combustion engine to battery-powered vehicles.
“We are currently submitting a bid to government to create a National Battery Prototype Centre in Coventry which, if successful, would drive the delivery of the national electrification agenda and potentially lead to production of electric vehicles here in the West Midlands.”
“The statistics for the region – particularly in terms of the levels of nitrogen dioxide – are troubling and they stem primarily from the congestion on our roads.
“We have talked in the West Midlands about a step-change in public transport. It’s about reopening railway lines, about extending the Metro system across the region, about making it easier to cycle and about encouraging cleaner buses.
“We have a host of commitments which we will hope to deliver over the coming years which will reduce air pollution and diesel emissions.”
National Clean Air Day, co-ordinated by Global Action Plan, aims to bring a focus to action on air pollution –both to protect people’s health and reduce air pollution levels.
Staff at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – which the Mayor chairs - were invited to mark the day in a variety of ways, including testing out an electric hybrid car or an electric bike, and signing up to pledges for the day, such as leaving the car at home or walk the children to school.