Air pollution 'neglected for road safety'

Research has claimed that the failure to improve air pollution in UK cities is due to the political prioritising of economic growth and road safety.

Set to be presented to the Royal Geographical Society annual conference, the research claims that policy falls between the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with both neglecting it.

The study included an in-depth analysis of local authority approaches to managing air quality and analysis of long term UK air quality data. It also used an evaluation of data collected by government as part of MoT tests, and additional analysis of studies undertaken for the Department of Transport into people's attitudes and transport choices.

The authors of the research from the University of the West of England deem that cars, buses and lorries are the main cause of air pollution in 95 per cent of UK cities where the air is classed unfit to breathe - that pollution of which is estimated to shorten the lives of more than 50,000 people a year.

Professor Graham Parkhurst, co-author of the report, said: “"Air pollution is the grossest manifestation of a failure of UK transport planning to take the environmental impacts of transport choices sufficiently into account.

"Currently, air pollution is a shared priority between Defra and the Department for Transport, but shared priority does not mean equal priority. Transport policy and planning has instead prioritised safety and economic growth."

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