The UK government needs to make walking and cycling the easiest options to tackle toxic air


Your article (Over 160,000 people could die from diseases linked to air pollution by 2030 in UK) highlights the inefficiency of the UK’s current air quality guidelines and the need for more stringent policies to clean up our toxic air.

For years we’ve known about the detrimental impact air pollution has on our health, with road transport being responsible for 80 per cent of nitrogen oxide, where legal limits are being broken. Furthermore, in London, 45 per cent of particulate matter comes from tyre and brake wear. Despite this, very little is being done to tackle these pollutants which pose one of the greatest threats to human health.

Our [Sustrans’] research with the consultancy Eunomia reveals the huge role walking and cycling could play in tackling toxic air. If the targets to double journeys by cycle and increase walking in the UK government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy were met, this would prevent more than 8,300 premature deaths from air pollution in England over 10 years.

It’s time for the UK government to take scientific research seriously and curb road transport emissions. To do this effectively, we need to make walking and cycling the easiest option for more people. This should include a 20-minute neighbourhood planning principle for all cities and towns so that journeys for everyday needs on foot or by cycle become the norm across the UK.

Rachel White
Head of public affairs at UK walking and cycling charity Sustrans

A sad loss

The passing of Tony Garnett, producer of thought-provoking films, notably Cathy Come Home, is a sad loss. Nevertheless, it reminds me that social issues are not being adequately addressed. Homelessness is worse than when the film was made, same with rough sleeping, and poverty in general. He stated that he wanted politicians come up with solutions. How this is addressed by this government, God only knows!

Gary Martin

Megxit circus

I read Sean O’Grady’s article and agree with him that the media circus concerning the very sad event of the possible decoupling of Harry and Meghan from the royal family, has a lot to answer for.

He is correct that the tabloid press and social media have been culpable in this respect – at first it was Meghan and Harry mania and then as usual as happens in Britain they are taken down story by story, until we all wonder what is fact or fiction.

No doubt there are faults on both sides, as they are only human, but when columnists appear to focus on every piece of minutiae, there is trouble ahead. This could have been all so different and now there are crisis talks.

What with this and Brexit, I am thinking of moving to Canada with them and gain some much-needed perspective, where seemingly people celebrate and not denigrate on an industrial scale.

Judith A Daniels
Cobholm, Great Yarmouth

Do we really need them?

The essence of the panic surrounding the “bombshell” announcement by the Sussexes is the royals cannot be seen to have human frailties. Indeed, the moment the public realises they are people just like us, that inevitably will lead to the question: “Why do we need them?” As it did in France and Russia.

Fuad Kavur

No accident

How can Iran claim the death of 176 people was unintentional? Someone made a deliberate decision to fire a weapon to take down the plane. This type of technology must surely take several steps to activate – it couldn’t be so easy to use that a person could trip and truly accidently cause hundreds of deaths.

There is also the underlying reality that there was a weapon there that could cause all these deaths. That was no accident, that was intentional. The path to peace requires many steps including intentional planning and not pathetic lies dressed up as excuses for the inexcusable.

Dennis Fitzgerald
Melbourne, Australia

Nuance needed

Keir Starmer tells us the free market model “doesn’t work”. This is not true. Before the industrial revolution (and its concomitant capitalist ethos) most people lived in poverty. That is not the case today.

We are not all, of course, required to be in favour of the Adam Smith-type laissez-faire. However, a bit of nuance is surely necessary (especially for someone clearly positioning himself in the centre of the Labour Party).

There will be other leadership candidates championing the hardline socialist argument. Keir and his team would do well to acquaint themselves with the social democratic and Keynesian writing of Will Hutton. His advocacy of stakeholder capitalism is surely what the non-Marxist left should now be taking on board as an alternative to Corbynism.

The Rev Andrew McLuskey
Ashford, Middlesex

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Time to vote on the monarchy – and change Britain’s constitution