Thursday 07 May 2020
Green Party NI Deputy Leader Malachai O’Hara has said that continual breaches of air quality standards must be addressed.
Cllr Malachai O’Hara commented following today’s DAERA publication of air quality standards for 2018.
Monitoring sites at Stockman’s Lane Belfast, Downpatrick Roadside and Limavady Dungiven reported nitrogen dioxide (N02) levels which exceeded legal limits.
Malachai O’Hara said: “The report acknowledges that N02 is a pollutant most closely associated with road traffic. It’s no surprise, therefore, that breaches have occurred close to major roads.
“There cannot be an acceptance of the inevitability of air pollution and a culture of shoulder shrugging around continual breaches of air quality standards.
“Scientific and medical evidence are clear on the harmful effects of air pollution - respiratory disease, early death and more recently, links between air pollution, dementia and miscarriages.
“The pandemic that we’re all living through and the associated lockdown have given us a window into a world with cleaner air.
“Belfast City Council statistics have shown a 30 per cent improvement in air quality during this time and many people are commenting that the air feels cleaner with fewer vehicles on the road.
“Improving air quality in the longer term requires a collaborative approach form all levels of government. It will take a commitment towards prioritising public transport and active travel as part of a Green Recovery.
“The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs must bring forward an Air Quality Strategy which adopts stricter legal limits, enables the creation of clean air zones and bans the sale of polluting household fuels.
“Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon’s announcement on active travel measures earlier this week was a welcome development.
“Let’s follow on from that with the Executive working together to address climate breakdown and take the urgent action needed to improve quality of life for all our citizens.”
Sinead McIvor - 07701 302 498