Back in May this year it was announced that 47 towns and cities in the UK had broken the World Health Organisations (WHO) annual limit on air pollution. The release of the updated report led to much criticisms of the government from health organisations and environmental groups on the lack of action taken, resulting in significant pressure on government to act imminently.
Prior to this announcement, government had made plans to reduce pollution, originally issued in September 2017 which outlined their commitment to environmental strategies. This was eventually actioned from 22 May 2018 and named the Clean Air Strategy 2018.
The overview was set out by Department for Environment Food & Rural Services (DEFRA) to reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrates in the UK amongst other pollutants from a variety of sources including aviation, industry and agriculture to name a few.
The draft Clean Air Strategy 2018 outlined requirements of local councils to produce and submit potential plans for consideration that will reduce roadside pollution. The process of which was to consult a variety of organisations such as business, public, environmental researchers, governance and bodies of education who could contribute to the consultative process. This process closed on 14 August 2018 at which point we now await more details soon to be released in the media. Click here for further information.
Since the report was issued by the WHO, tackling pollution has been a key focus by the UK government as it identified that nearly 50 towns and cities in the UK are at, or have exceed their recommend air pollution limits. The WHO project found that 30 areas have fine-particle air pollution levels above 10 micrograms per cubic metre, with another 17 over that limit, which could lead to serious health issues of the public.
50,000 deaths a year in the UK linked to pollution
Fine-particle air pollution is particularly bad for us because it penetrates deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory infections, the WHO says.
In the UK, approximately 8%, or 50,000 deaths are estimated to be linked to pollution according to the BBC.
Dr Penny Woods, of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution is reaching crisis point worldwide, and the UK is faring worse than many countries in Western Europe and the US. 
Top 20 worst polluting UK cities
As one of the worst polluting countries in Europe, the UK ranks worse than the US in terms of number of deaths linked to pollution. From the 47 towns and cities listed, the top 20 worst polluting cities in the UK (micrograms per cubic metre) are:
1) Port Talbot: 18
2) Scunthorpe: 15
3) Salford: 15
4) Gibraltar: 14
5) Thurrock: 14
6) Gillingham: 13
7) Manchester: 13
8) Swansea: 13
9) Carlisle: 12
10) Chepstow: 12
11) Eccles: 12
12) Grays: 12
13) Leeds: 12
14) Leicester: 12
15) Liverpool: 12
16) Nottingham: 12
17) Plymouth: 12
18) Prestonpans: 12
19) Royal Leamington Spa: 12
20) Sandy: 12
Despite the WHO’s report on pollution, the UK air pollution from cars has dropped by 12% in the four years between 2012 to 2016 according to figures from the Office for National Statistics . And with more EV, PHEV and cleaner diesel engines being designed, the replacement of older dirty vehicles can only be good for our future as it encourages the public and companies to modernise their fleet with newer and cleaner vehicles.
Let SMC help you design your new company fleet vehicle policy
Does your business operate in any of the top 20 worst polluting cities?
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