Four streets in Yorkshire among worst spots in the country for dangerous levels of air pollution
Analysis by Friends of the Earth has identified more than 1,300 sites across England where pollution levels were breaching annual limits for harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide.
The data, from local authorities’ air quality reports submitted to the Government in 2018, shows 1,330 locations exceeded the annual average air quality target of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air for nitrogen dioxide.
The environmental group also highlighted 10 locations where pollution levels were more than double this figure, of which four were in urban areas in South and West Yorkshire.
Sheffield’s station taxi rank was the second-worst affected spot in the country with a score of 91.7, and was followed by the Neville Street tunnel in Leeds city centre with 88.
Two locations in Doncaster were also in the top 10, namely John O’Gaunts and Fir Tree Close at Hickleton.
Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant linked to lung and respiratory diseases and early deaths.
Coun Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability at Sheffield City Council, said: "We are aware of the issue with air pollution outside the train station, which is caused by the diesel trains as well as the taxis.
"One of the most significant ways of improving the Air Quality at the Station is the electrification of the Midland Main Line and the replacement of the diesel trains. It is therefore disappointing that the Government previously cancelled the planned electrification of the Midland Main Line, something that still remains a key feature in the Sheffield City Region Integrated Rail Plan.
"We are also planning for the introduction of a Clean Air Zone, which would also go towards reducing pollution throughout the city by incentivising drivers to buy cleaner vehicles. The Zone would charge the most polluting diesel vehicles, while offering grants and support for drivers who chose cleaner vehicles, such as electric taxis."
Leeds city councillor James Lewis, who is executive member for air quality, said pollution levels had fallen considerably in recent months due to reduced traffic during the lockdown.
Coun Lewis said: “Whilst it isn’t currently possible to reliably predict the long-term impact on traffic, we are working to preserve as much of these improvements as possible by promoting and enabling a shift towards cleaner and greener travel.
"We have also previously announced plans to effectively close Neville Street to all cars – helping to improve air quality in the area – as part of future works to transform and expand City Square.”
A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said emissions of nitrogen oxides had fallen by 33 per cent since 2010.
He said: “We are taking urgent action to curb the impact air pollution has on communities across England through the delivery of our £3.8bn plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution. This includes providing £880m in funding and expert support to local authorities to improve air quality, and to introduce Clean Air Zones to further clean up the air we breathe.”