Letter: How to improve air quality

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The Independent Online
Sir: Research suggesting that traffic pollution triggers 6,000 heart attacks a year in Britain will further compound pressure upon New Labour to prove its "green" credentials (report, 5 August). One of the last acts of the Tory government was to publish the UK's first National Air Quality Strategy.

Last month the Minister for the Environment, Michael Meacher MP, announced an immediate review of this strategy, accusing the "last government of failing to tackle pollution successfully despite its `green' rhetoric".

If the present government is to fare any better, it must take urgent action to cut further harmful emissions from road traffic. The measures needed are well understood: national traffic reduction targets; road tax linked to emissions for cars; tax breaks for cleaner fuels such as gas and ultra-low sulphur diesel; taxing private non-residential parking; congestion charging and a national vehicle identification scheme to allow the exclusion of older, dirtier vehicles from polluted urban areas; the power for local authorities to require bus and taxi operators to meet enhanced emissions standards, and ensure that large employers draw up green commuter plans.

Reviews, consultations and photo-opportunities are no substitute for effective action to protect public health.

Dr MALCOLM EAMES

National Society for Clean Air

and Environmental Protection

Brighton

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