EXETER City Council has commissioned a brand new city-wide initiative – a Low Emission Strategy - to improve Exeter’s air quality.

The main aim of the strategy is to protect people - especially the vulnerable - from respiratory and other potentially life-threatening illnesses related to poor air quality caused by traffic.

“Air pollution can be a hidden killer and Exeter is no different to most cities throughout the UK,” said Cllr Keith Owen, Lead Councillor for Environment, Health and Wellbeing. “However we mustn’t be complacent and that’s why we’re trying to address the problem before it gets any worse.”

He added: “The main source of local air pollution in Exeter is from traffic. The Low Emission Strategy will set out positive steps to address the issue.

"We feel it is essential to examine all suitable courses of action now to reduce risks to health and ensure continued sustainable growth for the city. This will keep Exeter clean and beautiful for everyone - both now and for the future.”

Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis, head of air pollution and climate change group at Public Health England, said: “Air pollution is a serious public health problem so it’s very encouraging to see Exeter City Council planning direct action to reduce levels of pollutants across the area.

“We all have a part to play in tackling this serious problem and by doing small things we can improve our own health at the same time. So if we walk or cycle more instead of using the car, not only will we contribute to an overall reduction in air pollution levels but we’ll increase our exercise levels and so improve our own health.”

Exeter is a green and attractive city. However, no matter how good the air quality may appear, air pollution is an invisible potential health threat to everyone , especially vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, the elderly and patients with pre-existing respiratory diseases. In fact, it is estimated that poor air quality will contribute to the deaths of 42 people in Exeter this year alone, that’s almost four football teams!

The Low Emission Strategy will be looking at the impact of travel and transport on air quality. The findings will help the Council to implement the most effective measures for reducing air pollution. Future measures may include:

• Helping people to switch to less polluting transport methods

• Encouraging the use of electric vehicles

• Changing the way we allow deliveries to be made in and around the city

• Fitting buses with emission reducing equipment A full public consultation will allow city residents to provide their valuable input by completing a survey.

For more information on the Low Emission Strategy, including details of the public consultation , visit www.exeter.gov.uk/les