A RAFT of measures have been brought forward in a bid to improve the air quality across the region.
The £1million action plan was launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to tackle harmful particles which are said to cause 2,300 premature deaths every year in the region.
Under the plans a series of air quality sensors will be installed to provide real-time, publicly accessible data on pollution levels and an alert system when pollution levels are high will be developed.
The WMCA says regional targets will be set to reduce the number of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.
The plan will paid for from a government air quality fund handed to the authority over the next two years as part of the WMCA’s wider Air Quality Framework.
The Framework focuses on reducing high levels of harmful microscopic particles in the air, known as PM2.5 and PM10, that come from things like wood-burners, factories and dust from the tyres of road vehicles.
The WMCA says these particulates can cause illnesses like asthma, coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, with long-term exposure also estimated to be responsible for 2,300 premature deaths every year in the West Midlands.
The adverse health effects of poor quality air have led to hundreds of local people – many with lung conditions impacted by air pollution – signing a petition calling on local leaders in the region to prioritise improving air quality.
The petition has been handed to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, by representatives from Asthma + Lung UK.
Tim Dexter, clean air lead at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “We welcome this new plan to address harmful levels of air pollution in the West Midlands.
“A bold and united approach is essential to protecting lung health in communities across the region.
“With hundreds of signatures from local residents, our petition highlights the need for local leaders to make tackling air pollution a top priority. This plan is a step towards guaranteeing everyone in our towns and cities can breathe cleaner air and have a healthier future.”
The authority say improving air quality is already a key part of its long-term commitment to reducing health inequalities and improving the region’s environment.
It added that significant progress is also being made to green the region’s transport network thanks rollout of electric buses and the creation of more cycling and walking routes.
West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, said: “We acknowledge and understand the depth of concern shown by local people – evident from the numbers who have signed Asthma + Lung UK’s recent petition. We’re committed to delivering solutions that ensure we’re leading the way when it comes to cleaner air.”