10 December 2017
Otley Green Party members held a short demonstration on Saturday November 25 at the main town centre traffic lights to highlight concerns about air quality arising from traffic congestion in the town, ahead of a major air pollution conference in Leeds.
Earlier this year the local Greens had monitored air quality and nitrogen dioxide emissions (NO²) on the roads around the junction and found them in places to be comparable to parts of central Leeds.
The demonstration was held to raise awareness of air pollution in Otley ahead of the Leeds State of the City Conference on December 6 which was to decide what measures to take to improve air quality across the city. Leeds has been branded as one of the worst five cities across England for dirty air.
Otley’s Green Councillor Mick Bradley believes Otley should be part of any Leeds plans to improve air quality. “This is why we felt it necessary to hold a demonstration,” he said. “We also wanted to highlight positive measures, such as having correct tyre pressures and switching off engines at lights, which drivers - that means all of us - can take to reduce vehicle emissions which pollute our air.”
Road pollution is more than twice as deadly to humans as traffic accidents according to an MIT study of UK air quality quoted by Aviva Insurance as part of the recent “Speed Down” Road Safety Week in November.
Air pollution in the UK was declared a “public health emergency” in 2016 and continues to breach the toxicity limit, causing 40,000-50,000 early deaths a year.