Calls to cut car emissions have been made by Northamptonshire’s Labour group after a report showed air pollution is causing 315 early deaths in the county each year.
The findings by Public Health England show that long-term exposure to air pollution – linked to a cardiovascular disease and cancer – leads to around 29,000 deaths in the United Kingdom annually.
The figures also reveal pollution was a factor in 102 deaths in people over the age of 25 in Northampton in 2010.
Following its release Labour has announced plans to deliver a national framework for Low Emissions Zones if it wins the general election next year, which would enable local authorities to encourage the use of ‘greener’ vehicles and other measures to reduce pollution.
Labour’s shadow cabinet member asfor transport, highways and the environment at Northamptonshire County Council, Councillor Winston Strachan, welcomed the announcement.
He said: “Air pollution causes 315 early deaths each year in Northamptonshire and 29,000 nationally, more than obesity and alcohol, yet the Government has no plan to get air pollution under control.
“Exposure to the level of air pollution currently found in Northamptonshire causes cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“Studies have also shown that pregnant women, who are exposed to these pollutants, have significantly high risk of low birth weight babies, and poor respiratory health.”
According to the report pollution from road traffic, particularly diesel fumes, are the most significant cause of poor air quality.
The Healthy Air Campaign, led by campaign group ClientEarth, has also welcomed the call by Northamptonshire Labour.
A spokesperson for the campaign, aimed at lobbying government to put emission-reduction measures in place, said:
“Northamptonshire Labour is doing the right thing by stepping in to protect the health of local people.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer, causing heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease. Children living near busy roads have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs, and that’s not acceptable.”