The AM for the Rhondda has backed calls for a Clean Air Act to be introduced in Wales.
Leanne Wood AM joined with the public, environmentalists and medical professionals in demanding legislation to improve the air we breathe. It is estimated that 2,000 lives are cut short in Wales every year as a result of poor air quality. Increasing asthma rates among children are also blamed upon poor air quality.
It is thought that a Clean Air Act would enshrine World Health Organisation quality guidelines in law, compel the Welsh Government to produce an air quality strategy every five years and ensure that local authorities appropriately monitor and assess air pollution.
Ms Wood said the need to improve air quality was pressing and growing with every year.
“We have a reputation in Wales of having a clean and green environment but the truth is that we have some of the worst air quality in the UK,” said Ms Wood.
“Parts of Cardiff and Port Talbot have higher particulate matter levels than bigger urban areas like Manchester or Birmingham.
“More locally, figures from 2016 showed that of the 81 areas in Wales to exceed safe levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, more than a quarter were in Rhondda Cynon Taf. That’s unacceptable.
“If the Labour Government is serious about improving our environment, addressing the climate crisis and improving air quality, they must introduce a Clean Air Act. The Scottish Government has its own Air Quality Strategy – it is high time the Labour Ministers here caught up.”