Twelve UK cities and urban areas may have to ban or fine heavily polluting traffic from their centres within months after the European commission refused to allow Britain more time to reduce dangerous exhaust emissions, according to air quality campaigners.
Newcastle, Liverpool, Tyneside, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Birkenhead, Preston, Swansea, Belfast, south-west England, north-east Scotland and south Wales are all likely to have to introduce “low-emission zones” to curb the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is linked to heart diseases and respiratory problems.
Nine other cities, including Nottingham, Leicester and Portsmouth, have been given three more years to reduce NO2 pollution. Europe will decide later whether plans for 17 other towns cities and regions, including London, are adequate. Forty of 43 UK zones exceeded NO2 legal limits in 2010.