Sandra LavilleSaturday 22 April 2017 06.01 BST
Nearly 40 million people in the UK are living in areas where illegal levels of air pollution from diesel vehicles risk damaging their health, according to analysis commissioned by the Labour party.
The extent of the air pollution crisis nationally is exposed in the data which shows 59% of the population are living in towns and cities where nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution breaches the lawful level of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of air.
Labour says the air pollution crisis is a “national scandal”. Sue Hayman, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said a Labour government would bring in a new clean air act to tackle what was a public health emergency.
“Labour will not allow the Tories to use the snap general election or Brexit to kick this issue into the long grass or water down standards that would put millions of UK adults and children at risk,” said Hayman.
She said the party was committed to putting in place a network of clean air zones across the UK where there are high emissions, and would act at an international level to close loopholes in emissions testing of vehicles.
The analysis published by Labour shows more than 38 million people, representing 59.3% of the UK population, are living in areas where levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution are above legal limits.
Local authorities including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Burnley, Derby, Chelmsford, Leeds, Northampton, Richmond and Sheffield – among many others – have NO2 levels above the legal limit.