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Green MEP Keith Taylor in call for low emission zone in Kent to tackle killer air pollution

By KentOnline reporter

Calls have today been made for low emission zones and congestion charges to be considered in Kent as a way of tackling air pollution.

It comes after a health warning was issued yesterday, with parts of the county experiencing the highest possible levels.

Government department Defra gave the pollution alert due to a combination of fumes, the weather and dust blown over from the Sahara.

Air pollution fears
Air pollution fears

By today the situation had eased slightly, with just the tip of coastal Kent around Thanet suffering really high levels.

It is thought up to 1,000 people in the south east have died in the past year as a result of poor air quality.

Now Keith Taylor, a Green MEP for the south east, is calling for a possible low emission zone for the county.

The London Low Emission Zone, which covers most of Greater London, was introduced in February 2008 and aims to reduce the diesel emissions of commercial vehicles.

Mr Taylor said: "As an environmental killer, air pollution is second only to smoking.

"Now ask yourself, can you imagine the government not taking action to control and restrict smoking? No. So why are they not doing the same for air pollution?

Kent's pollution map for Thursday
Kent's pollution map for Thursday

"Doctors are now telling us that young children are very susceptible to air pollution and it's proven that the nearer they live to major sources of pollution, the greater likelihood they've got of lung conditions.

"As climate change carries on altering our climate, the impact of air pollution will be magnified.

"We can look at low emission zones, congestion charging and ways to encourage people to change their behaviour because the choice is fairly stark - this is only going to get worse."

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the south east
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the south east

Yesterday, asthma sufferers and those with lung conditions were warned to take extra care as parts of Kent faced the most severe weather warnings possible.

Coastal areas of the county, stretching from Thanet down to Dover, were issued with the highest level of pollution warning - a 10 on a scale of one to 10.

A low emission zone was introduced in London in 2008
A low emission zone was introduced in London in 2008

Other inland areas also faced a high warning from Defra, meaning levels of pollution could affect vulnerable asthma sufferers or those with other lung or chest conditions.

In areas of high pollution, those with breathing conditions were advised to avoid outdoor physical exertion.

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