Huddersfield Friends of the Earth air pollution investigation reveals cause for concern


An investigation by Huddersfield Friends of the Earth in to air pollution across Kirklees has revealed concerning levels of air pollution. The group is sharing the results on National Clean Air Day this Thursday 21st June 2018.

If air pollution were as bad across the year as it has been for the duration of the study this could mean that some areas in Huddersfield town centre, Bradley Bar, New Mill and Huddersfield Road in Dewsbury would be blighted by illegally polluted air.

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, but each year in the UK air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths, and stunts the development of children’s lungs.

In Kirklees alone there are an estimated 196 early deaths from air pollution every year. [3]

The group monitored nitrogen dioxide levels at a number of sites around Kirklees for several weeks, providing a snapshot of NO2 pollution for that time. NO2 is a toxic gas which inflames the lining of the lungs. The legal annual limit for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre(ug/m3) but there are no safe levels of exposure to air pollution. The group found  levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in excess of 40 micrograms per cubic metres in locations at Huddersfield ring road, New Mill, Huddersfield Road in Dewsbury and Bradley Bar roundabout. The results can be seen on Friends of the Earth’s website:


Richard Cooley FRSA from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, said:

“Air pollution is an invisible killer. Public Health England estimates that 196 people die early in Kirklees every year as a result of pollution.

“We know road traffic is the biggest problem – and diesel is the worst of all. Which is why we need bold action to get diesel vehicles off our roads and encourage people to walk and cycle more.

“Car manufacturers who helped create this mess, need to cough up for a diesel scrappage scheme to help motorists shift to clean vehicles and alternatives to driving.

“It’s just not right that our children and grand-children are growing up breathing dirty air, which can actually lead to lung problems for life. We need clean air now.”

Huddersfield Friends of the Earth is putting forward a 10 Point Clean Air Strategy for Kirklees with proposed measures including:

·         Introducing Clean Air Zones in areas with high air pollution, including schools

·         Stop giving planning permission for new houses in areas of poor air quality near motorways and polluted junctions

·         Increasing charging points for electric vehicles around Kirklees

·         Campaigning for electrification of TransPennine trains


The campaign group is keen to set up a meeting with representatives from Kirklees Council to start working towards these goals collaboratively with the council.




Editor’s notes:

1.      For more information about Friends of the Earth’s Clean Air campaign or for Clean Air Kits to monitor air pollution visit:

2.      About Friends of the Earth: For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit, follow us at @wwwfoecouk, or like our Facebook page.

3.      Public Health England collate figures of early deaths across the country by local authority from particulate matter (PM) – one type of harmful air pollution.


4.      Kirklees Air Quality Strategy 2018 – 2025:  Huddersfield FoE’s 10-point action plan


1.      Increase the monitoring of the levels of NOx and PM10s and PM 2.5s by establishing more Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs).

Increase the areas monitored (e.g. Holmfirth, New Mill, Manchester Road – Longroyd Bridge).

2.      Establish a plan for Clean Air Zones to be introduced post-2020 in high pollution areas to complement measures to be adopted in Leeds from 2020.

Proposed Kirklees CAZ to be in place by 2023 and include all polluting vehicles (including light vans and cars).  

3.      Introduce a plan to protect pupils and school students from poor air quality by introducing Clean Air Zones around schools where poor air quality is recorded at morning and afternoon peaks. Ensure free facilities are available for recharging e-bikes used by staff and students and recharging points are available for staff.

4.      Ban idling by stationary vehicles in any designated CAZ (Clean Air Zone) areas– especially around schools. Establish a no idling ban with volunteers encouraging good behavior (Air Marshalls).

5.      Adopt changes in taxi and private hire licensing. Progressively eliminate non-compliant diesels from the fleet so that by 2025 all vehicles are electric or petrol/hybrid. Starting from 2020 introduce a ban on Euro IV and older diesel vehicles; then from 2021 progressively eliminate Euro V. Provide incentives to introduce ultra low emission vehicles from 2020 by lower licensing charges and dedicated recharging points for taxis.

Note: planned changes in licensing in Leeds and Wakefield should not lead to more polluting operators flourishing in Kirklees. 

6.      Expand use of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) in council fleet This helps to establish plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles as mainstream. Kirklees Council needs to work with other fleet operators in the borough – public, private and voluntary sector on vehicle procurement and operational issues (e.g. recharging facilities).

7.      Expand the charging infrastructure in the town centres and key routes into borough For business users, taxi and private hire operators, residents and visitors there is a need for more facilities in key urban centres and on selected key routes serving the borough (e.g. Batley, Marsden, Cumberworth). Ensure some dedicated recharging points for taxis in key locations (e.g. stations, town centres) are introduced by 2020.

8.      Develop a strategy for recharging points in residential areas where vehicles owners do not have off-street parking. Investigate the future procurement and positioning of dual-purpose lighting columns that can provide recharging points. 

9.      Use the West Yorkshire Low Emission Strategy to Inform Planning Decisions

Stop giving permission to build houses in areas of poor air quality (e.g. close to M62, M606 motorways and polluted junctions).

Expand recharging points so that 1:10 parking spaces are provided to future proof all new commercial and educational developments.

10.  Oppose the bi-modal compromise adopted by Department for Transport (Chris Grayling) in scrapping electrification of the TransPennine route.

Support moves towards introduction of cleaner trains.

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