“Damaging air” in Sheffield causing 525 deaths a year

Air pollution is damaging the quality of life in Sheffield city centre, a leading campaigner has warned.

Peter Sephton, the chair of the Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group, believes the council must do more to tackle the issue.

He said: “The City Council, as with most other towns in Britain and the UK government, has done little to address the problem.

“It concerns us that living in a city centre is better for lifestyles but until air pollution is addressed the benefits can be outweighed by breathing in damaging air.”

Air pollution contributes to 525 deaths in Sheffield every year and costs £200m in health care.

Mr Septhon sees the effect of air pollution first hand.

His granddaughter suffers from breathing problems and suffers from “frightening” attacks when air pollution is particularly bad.

Last week, Coun Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, labelled the situation a “public health emergency.”

He was speaking at a special meeting to discuss a ban on cars idling outside vulnerable locations like hospitals and schools.

In a council survey of 1,000 people, 97% said they would support the ban.

However, Coun Finnegan-Smith, Head of Strategic Transport and Infrastructure, admitted that despite the overwhelming support for the idea, he did not know when any measures could come into force.

Coun Finnegan-Smith addresses clean air campaigners and concerned residents.

Mr Sephton said it was “encouraging” that the council has begun to look at strategies to reduce pollution, but added “there is a very long way to go locally and nationally to fix this problem.”

Another concerned resident, Dr Jack Czauderna, said he was “horrified” by the council’s lack of action.

He said: “I am a grandparent with a 3-year-old I take to nursery school and I am horrified about amount of traffic around schools.

“We can’t wait for timelines; we need to be doing something now.”

Greg Fell, Sheffield’s Director of Public Health, admitted there was “a lot of work to do”, starting with raising awareness to the public and in schools about the dangers of air pollution.

For more information on air pollution, see Sheffield City Council’s Air Aware Campaign here.

Charlie McGrath

Journalism student at the University of Sheffield.

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