Coal fires and wood burning stoves should be BANNED throughout Milton Keynes, say pollution experts
Pollution experts are calling on the council to ban coal fires and wood burning stoves in Milton Keynes to curb the number of deaths linked to air pollution.
They say the smoke they generate is a major cause of air pollution, which is linked to one out of every 17 deaths in Milton Keynes.
The shocking figures have been revealed this week after a study by experts at 'think tank' charity Centre for Cities.
It shows 102 deaths in one year in MK were linked to long term exposure of the toxin PM2.5, a pollutant found in the atmosphere.
This was 5.6 per cent of all deaths in MK, and is 20 times the rate of deaths from road traffic accidents in any one year.
Burning fuels is a major cause , with half of PM2.5 toxins in cities and large towns coming from sources such as wood burning stoves and coal fires, says Centre for Cities.
Transport is also a significant contributor to PM2.5. But not all of the pollution locally generated – some is blown in from continental Europe.
"These deadly levels of PM2.5 are currently legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite breaking the World Health Organization’s air pollution guidelines," said a Centre for Cities spokesman.
The figures make Milton Keynes the sixth most polluted town in the south east, on a level with Oxford.
This week the charity is calling for local authorities to ban the use of coal fires and wood burning stoves in areas with high pollution.
Currently, about a third of Milton Keynes is a designated smoke control area, where people are only permitted to burn smokeless fuels, This includes Bletchley, Central Milton Keynes, New Bradwell, Coffee Hall, Beanhill and Heelands. But this should be extended to the entire city, says .Centre for Cities
The charity is also urging the council to introduce Ultra Low Emission Zones throughout MK and adopt stricter guidelines on PM2.5.
Meanwhile, they are calling on the government to introduce stricter pollution legislation and give more incentives to local authorities to clean up their areas.
Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “More than half of people in the UK live in cities and large towns. And while they offer people good employment and lifestyle opportunities Cities Outlook 2020 shows that they also having a damaging effect on their health, with air pollution killing thousands of people living in cities every year.
“Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action. People in the South East should be at the centre of the fight against its toxic air and councils should take the steps needed, including charging people to drive in city centres and banning wood burning stoves.
“To help the Government needs to provide the South East’s councils with extra money and introduce stricter guidelines. The deadly levels of polluted air in the South East are entirely legal. This needs to change. As a matter of urgency the Government should adopt WHO’s stricter guidelines around PM2.5 emissions. Failure to act now will lead to more deaths in the South East.”