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Mary Creagh MP: Fighting for our right to breathe clean air

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh.

Air pollution is a silent killer.

It cuts short around 40,000 lives each year, equivalent to the number of lives lost to alcohol abuse. It is a public health emergency which costs us £20 billion a year.

Even a day’s exposure to poor air increases the risk of a heart attack. Air pollution can also get worse during heatwaves.

Nearly 200 people in Wakefield are dying prematurely from air pollution which is why I took part in a debate in Parliament last week.

Four parliamentary Select Committees have examined the government’s plans to cut air pollution.

We found that the UK has failed to meet our legal air quality limits since 2010. While the fight against air pollution is portrayed as a war on the motorist, air pollution in cars can be up to ten times worse than outside the vehicle, putting drivers and passengers at risk.

The placement of car exhausts and ventilation systems means fumes from the vehicle in front go straight into your car.

We also discovered that wood burning stoves are responsible for 42% of all emissions across the country and agriculture is responsible for 80% of ammonia emissions.

We called for a new Clean Air Act to guarantee our right to clean air if we leave the EU. With just one quarter of West Yorkshire’s bus fleet Euro 5 compliant, we also want a national support scheme to help councils tackle air pollution from taxis and buses. And we called on Government bodies, like the NHS to lead the way in buying electric vehicle fleets.

We also need councils to roll out electric vehicle charging points.

If we want cities where people can move and can breathe we have to act on all fronts to change the way we travel and make walking and cycling safer.

In Parliament, I hosted Year Six students from Greenhill Primary School. They had written to the Speaker asking for a meeting - and they got one! They are the first school in Wakefield to meet John Bercow. He held a Q&A session with the students, revealing that he once had hopes of being a professional tennis player!

This week Colin Frost and his sister Anne Cleave launched a campaign to apply to the Attorney General to re-open the inquest into Elsie’s case.

Elsie was 14 when she was murdered while walking home from school in 1965. Her family’s campaign for justice led West Yorkshire Police to gather new evidence against Peter Pickering.

He died earlier this year before he could be prosecuted, so the new evidence cannot be revealed.

I am working with the Frosts to get that evidence heard at a fresh inquest.

Please donate whatever you are able to their campaign. Together we can right this historic wrong.

Donate here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-elsie-frost