Outdoor air pollution contributes to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year, and with pollution levels in some areas of Greater Manchester at one-and-a-half times the legal limit. This is totally unacceptable and we need a fresh approach to tackling this invisible killer.

Yet, the problem of dirty air is nothing new. The rapid economic growth from the industrial revolution left its mark on the health of communities like ours, and it wasn’t until the Clean Air Act of 1956 that effective measures to prevent air pollution were properly implemented.

I’m proud that the old Denton Urban District Council was among the first local authorities to adopt the Clean Air Act and declare smokeless zones and plant trees to help remove the pollutants. Sadly many of those street trees have been removed over the decades and never replaced; and whilst our factories and homes are no longer the main source of air pollution, the problem has recurred as a public health issue.

Of course, back in the 1950s, air pollution was visible – the smoke billowed from factory and residential chimneys resulting in the thick pea-souper smogs. Our buildings were soot black. You could see the pollution you were breathing in.

And yet here we are, in 2018, with air pollution a significant issue again; except now it’s a largely invisible form of pollution.

In its recent Public Health Annual Report the council recently included a call for action on air quality. The report laid bare how air quality across the area is becoming a 21st century public health threat.

The report aims to raise awareness of the risks of traffic-related air pollution, as well as identifying areas where individuals and organisations in Tameside can limit their contribution and exposure.

This is urgent as Tameside has a higher population of residents who are more affected by air pollution such as the very young, elderly, and adults with pre-existing lung and heart conditions.

Regionally, co-ordinated work is already taking place across Greater Manchester through a joint Air Quality Action Plan which will complement projects taking place in Tameside.

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan sets out a framework for councils across Greater Manchester which will reduce air pollution while supporting the sustainable economic growth of the region. The low-emissions strategy aims to reduce air pollution as a contributor to ill-health in Greater Manchester; reduce Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint; and encourage a low-emission culture.

Encouraging a low-emission culture is of particular importance as the most serious air pollutants that affect us are nitrogen oxides and particulates. Travelling by car is still the biggest contributor to these harmful pollutants and in Greater Manchester road transport accounts for 65% of nitrogen oxide and 79% of particulate emissions, along with 31% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Improving transport links are vital to reducing the historically high air pollution which persistently occurs throughout the section of Tameside that I represent. Currently, the area around the Manchester Outer Ring Road (M60), especially in the northern section of Stockport moving into Denton through on to Audenshaw is a high pollution zone.

That’s why I’m dedicated to introducing sensible transport plans that work to free up areas of accumulated traffic and pollution, specifically improving journey times from Denton into central Manchester.

The advantage of this approach is clear; we have existing infrastructure in place, we have the lines, we have the stations and the route through from Stockport to Manchester Victoria – a destination otherwise not easily accessible directly from south-east Manchester. Most importantly, this approach will cut the amount of dirty air that we all breathe.

In Manchester we have a proud history of action to tackle dirty air with winter levels of smoke and sulphur dioxide having been reduced by more than 95% in recent decades.

We now need to introduce sensible transport plans that work to free up areas of traffic and pollution in order to save lives and improve quality of life.

Constituency Office Address

Town Hall, Market Street, Denton, M34 2AP

Parliamentary Office Address

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA