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Health watchdog urges councils to redesign speed bumps to cut pollution

The health watchdog NICE has called on councils to consider a raft of new measures including lowering speed limits and redesigning speed bumps in a bid to reduce air pollution.

The guidance also encourages businesses and transport companies to encourage ‘smooth’ driving from lorry and bus drivers to help reduce unnecessary emissions.

Road traffic is the cause of over 64% of air pollution in urban areas, with air pollution and its health impact costing the UK up to £18.6bn a year. NICE noted that evidence on traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps suggested that these may increase emissions by adding to decelerations and accelerations. So where physical measures are needed to reduce road injuries they should be designed to minimise their impact on air pollution.

Professor Paul Lincoln, chief executive of UK health forum and NICE guideline committee chair, said: “Traffic-related air pollution is a major risk to the public's health and contributes to health inequalities.

“The NICE guidance sets out a strategic range of evidence based practical measures to encourage low or zero emissions transport. This is very timely given the imperative to meet EU and national air quality standards.”

NICE reported that short-term and long-term air pollution caused by human activities can have a significant health impact, with harmful emissions and the environmental risks associated with pollution connected to around 25,000 deaths a year in England.

The locally-focused draft guidance recommends that councils screen cyclists from motorised traffic by shrubs or plants and place buildings away from busy roads. NICE believes that the guidance will have further benefits in encouraging exercise and mitigating against climate change.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “The battle against air pollution has to be one we are all fully committed to.

“This draft guidance seeks to redesign how we work and live in cities. When finalised, its recommendations will ensure that everyone who has the power to make the changes required can be confident in the action they are taking.”

The LGA’s environmental spokesman Cllr Martin Tett welcomed the report, saying that councils are playing a “pivotal role” in tackling air pollution by encouraging the use of electric vehicles and cycling, monitoring air pollution borough-wide, strategic planning and increasing awareness among businesses, among other initiatives.

However, he added that the current air pollution measures taken by councils would need additional support in order to have the full desired impact.  

“Councils should be able to switch their focus from simply monitoring air quality to also devising solutions to tackling poor air quality. This needs to be supported by government policy at a national level,” said Cllr Tett.

NICE’s draft recommendations on tackling air pollution are out for public consultation until 25 January 2017. The full guidance is expected to be published in June 2017.

(Image: c. AP Photo, Lefteris Pitarakis)

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Colin   02/06/2017 at 21:33

There is only one sure way ro lower polution and that is to get rid altogether of the stupid speed humps i am poluting it must be at least 10 times more than i was before thats just on one road that has 10 speed humps now i use a ridiculous amount of petrol more because im speeding up slowing down speeding up not to mention ruining my clutch faster and my brakes which are putting out more brake dust into the air its just pathetic and everyones having a go at president trump over the paris affair yet our government are just hypocrits in the last ten years all coucils have increased polution by a massive amount by putting humps on almost every single street and many many main roads too. The health and safety has gone crazy in all my life and i am nearly 70 in rochdale where i unfortunately live there may have been a couple of speeding death related accidents on the side streets that i can remember so why go crazy over that we all die sometime we cant stop all deaths from cars no matter what you may do theres always someone who will break the law and kill so its a absolute crazy idea to in effect make all roads 20 mph or even less, around here no one takes a blind bit of notice of a 20 zone so why even try to enforce it what a waste of money time and effort and of course killing the planet by making all vehicles drive erratic speeds hense lots more polution.

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