New metro mayors must use their powers to tackle high levels of air pollution and improve green transport, according to leading environmental groups.
Metro mayors are being elected in six cities across the UK today as part of a government drive towards regional devolution. The new mayors will control decisions on local infrastructure such as roads, and will have control over transport budgets.
Environmental groups including Campaign for Better Transport are calling on the metro mayors to invest in green public transport such as walking and cycling, and electric vehicle infrastructure, to help tackle toxic air in UK cities.
Together the charities have published a report, Greening the city regions: opportunities for metro mayors, which includes a green city regions index for the first time. It shows all the regions surveyed break EU limits on NOx pollution.
Mayors are being elected in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands and the West of England.
“The new metro Mayors in these city regions have the powers and funding that can make a real difference to transport in their areas,” said Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph.
“We will want to see them exercise these powers by improving public transport and by tackling air pollution. Investment in better buses, walking and cycling and stronger controls on polluting cars and trucks will transform people’s lives and the success of their cities.”
The green city index shows inequalities among the city regions: Tees Valley has 19 electric vehicle charging points per 100,000 people compared to only one per 100,000 in Liverpool City Region.
The West Midlands has the lowest car use, while Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have levels much higher than the national average. Liverpool City Region performs the worst for pollution deaths at 58 per 100,000 residents.
The charities involved in the report are Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust and the Green Alliance.