Blackpool has some of the cleanest air in England new research shows

They say the sea air is good for you - and now research seems to have proved it.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:01 am

For figures published today reveal Blackpool has the lowest rate in the country of deaths from air pollution.

The resort has the smallest proportion of fatalities linked to deadly toxins from poor air quality in England and the fourth smallest in the UK.

The research has been published by think tank Centre for Cities in its Cities Outlook 2020 which is an annual study of the UK’s major urban areas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Blackpool has some of the cleanest air in the country
Blackpool has some of the cleanest air in the country

Geography, less heavy industry, transport management and fewer households owning wood burning stoves are among the reasons the resort is performing better when it comes to fresh air.

A spokesperson for Centre for Cities said: "It’s most likely to be fortunate geography.

"Blackpool is far from London and continental Europe. Lots of pollutants created there blow across the south east – but they don’t reach Blackpool."

For towns and cities with high levels of air pollution, the study's authors say drivers should be restricted from town centres where congestion is at its worst.

Trees planted on Cookson Street

The data measures PM2.5 - small particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres which is around three per cent of the width of a human hair.

Road traffic and some industrial activities are major sources of PM2.5 emissions.

In Blackpool, the research showed PM2.5 caused 104 deaths in 2017 – or 3.5 per cent of all adult deaths in the city.

Blackpool Council welcomed the results, but said it was still striving to reduce air pollution even further.

New low emission buses operated by Blackpool Transport

Coun Lynn Williams, cabinet member for health, said: “Since 2014, Blackpool’s PM2.5 and NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) levels have been lower than WHO (World Health Organisation) set guidelines.

"We are pleased to be recognised as having one of the lowest proportions of deaths related to PM2.5 in England, however there is still work to do.

“The council’s 2019-2024 plan outlines a Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy, which aims to create and restore green spaces.

"Additionally, the sustainability plan sets out how we’re looking to monitor and reduce emissions.

"We are also working on an updated air quality strategy, alongside other projects which will reduce the council’s emissions overall.”

Liverpool has the highest proportion of deaths in the North West relating to PM2.5, with the latest data linking it to 279 deaths in just one year, or 4.6 per cent of all adult deaths in the city.

Researchers claim more than one in 23 deaths in the North West’s largest cities and towns are related to long term exposure to air pollution, 1,921 in total, which they say is 21 times the regional rate of deaths from traffic accidents.

The proportion of deaths related to the deadly toxin PM2.5 is highest in cities and large towns in south eastern England such as Slough, Luton and London, where an estimated one in 16 people die from exposure.

Researchers say policies to tackle deaths could include introducing ultra low emission zones in town centres which drivers are charged to enter, and banning the use of wood burning stoves and coal fires in areas of high air pollution.

They also want the government to triple the size of the Clean Air Fund to £660m to help cities fight air pollution.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Politicians often talk tough on addressing air pollution but we need to see more action.

"People in the North West 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."

Factors which help keep our air cleaner

The Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan was launched last year to encourage more tree planting and better use of open space in the town.

Schemes have included planting 10 trees in Cookson Street, a busy town centre route, at a cost of £10,000 per tree.

Blackpool Transport's fleet of buses are almost all to Euro 6 standard which is the cleanest standard available on the market for diesel buses.

Five years ago the resort's buses emitted ten times more particulate matter and eight times more Nitrogen Oxide than they do now, and are some of the most environmentally friendly in the country.

The ugrade of the tramway has also encouraged more people to use public transport.

Blackpool's Local Transport Plan up until 2024 sets out proposals for £52,000 to be invested in installing electric charging points in town centre car parks for use by drivers.

In 2019 there was cross party agreement for the council to officially adopts its declaration on climate change.

Blackpool also has lower than average car ownership levels than other towns of its size.