Record number of consultation responses on air quality
More than 19,000 people in the North East have had their say on proposals for tackling pollution.
It’s a record number in terms of consultations held by councils in the area as well as being one of the largest clean air consultation response rates in the country.
By comparison just over 18,000 people responded to the consultation on London’s recently introduced Ultra Low Emission Zone, Birmingham’s clean air zone consultation attracted just over 10,000 responses and in Leeds just under 9,000 people took part in the city’s clean air consultation.
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “We have had an overwhelming response to the air quality consultation and would like to thank all those who took the time to tell us their views.
“Poor air quality is a serious health concern that we can’t afford to ignore and it’s important that we understand how potential measures may affect people before we agree final proposals.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “We welcome the fact that so many took part in this consultation, which shows that this is a really important issue for a great number of people.
“The feedback we have received will help us to determine the final proposals for improving air quality and making our areas cleaner and healthier.”
In addition to the 19,211 responses from individuals, Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils will also take into account a number of detailed written submissions from businesses and organisations about how different proposed measures may affect them.
All of the feedback and comments from everyone who took part will now need to be independently collated and analysed – a process that will take several weeks.
Cllr Carl Johnson, cabinet member for transport and environment at North Tyneside Council, said: “We will now await the independent analysis of the responses so that we can take this into account in our ongoing discussions with government regarding our final proposals.”
Pollution is linked to around 40,000 early deaths in the UK every year. It is caused by many factors but by far the largest contributor is road transport in many towns and cities across the UK.
In 2017 a number of councils across the country – including Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils – were issued with a legal order by the government, demanding action to address excessive levels of pollution in certain locations.
The government has told councils they must implement measures which bring pollution levels to within legal limits in the shortest possible time.
Along with a potential charging Clean Air Zone, councils in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside, also consulted on an option for tolls with a Low Emission Zone as well as measures to support those who may be affected by any charging scheme and longer term investment in improving public transport, walking and cycling route.
The consultation ran from 6 March 2019 until 19 May 2019.
Following the independent analysis, the results of the consultation are expected to be published in late July before final proposals are confirmed later this year.