Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for Berkshire and the South East, recently visited one of Reading’s pollution hotspots to raise awareness of the high levels of air pollution in the town. Keith visited Cemetery junction, one of the most polluted junctions in Reading, which has pollution levels of nitrogen dioxide above the safe legal limit. He was joined by Councillor Rob White and Reading Green Party members.
Keith urged Reading Borough Council to take more action to address this invisible public health crisis. Keith visited Reading in July to highlight his concerns over the high levels of air pollution in the town and met with Ross Jarvis, Lead Air Quality Officer at Reading Borough Council. He also met Councillor Melanie Eastwood, parents and pupils from Alfred Sutton Primary School on Wokingham Road to discuss their concerns about the high levels of pollution near the school. The centre of Reading is covered by an ‘Air Quality Management Area’ because the government approved level for the harmful pollutant, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), is being exceeded.
Keith said: “It is very worrying that the levels of pollutants in the air around Cemetery Junction continue to exceed the safe limits set down by the EU. The high level of air pollution in Reading city centre is badly affecting people’s health and it is worrying that little appears to have been done since I visited Reading in July to highlight this issue. The council is looking at introducing a Lower Emission Zone to reduce air pollution, but this process needs to be quicker so that it’s introduced in 2012.”
He continued: “Recently the Environmental Audit Committee, the government’s environmental watchdog, highlighted the failure to tackle air pollution as a ‘national scandal’. The lives of tens of thousands of people are being cut short each year because of air pollution and health costs already total £20bn a year. It’s vital that people have access to information about the levels of air pollution in Reading. Many other councils display real-time information on their websites so local people can see each day how bad the air is in different parts of their town. Reading should follow suit so that people can see what they’re breathing and take action to protect themselves from the potential damage to their health.”
Notes to Editors
1. Keith’s public information leaflet, ‘Air Pollution: The Invisible Killer’ can be downloaded at http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/air-pollution/