Yet, fleetingly, there was a brief moment of enlightenment during the first lockdown when the absence of traffic (people were heeding Government guidelines back then) led to a discernible difference in air quality.
Now, however, pollution levels in some towns and cities have returned to pre-pandemic levels and last week saw the conclusion of the heartbreaking inquest into the death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013. Tragically, the asthma sufferer in London has now made history by becoming the first person to have “air pollution” listed on their death certificate.
Against this backdrop, North Yorkshire County Council is to be praised for looking to create a low traffic neighbourhood in part of Harrogate – this could mean some residential streets being closed to through-traffic to encourage those making shorter journeys to walk or cycle.
Like other local authorities looking at similar ventures, the benefits to public health will not be known until such schemes are actually put into practice. They have worked elsewhere and have the potential to make a lasting difference here if councils work with affected residents rather than against them. Either way, doing nothing is no longer an option if pollution is not to become a death sentence for future generations.
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