The leader of Wigan’s Green Party says the government’s plans to scrap petrol and diesel cars are “simply not good enough”.
The government announced plans last week to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, amid fears of rising levels of toxic air that poses a major threat to public health.
But Will Patterson, chairman of the Wigan and Leigh Greens, believed more needed to be done, and sooner, to tackle air pollution.
Reacting to the government plans, he said: “It’s a baby step, but one in the right direction.
“I think it at least shows they recognise they have to do something, but it’s as if they’re ticking a box in an exercise rather than a real initiative.
“2040 is simply not good enough. This is a public health matter right now, yet they have already ruled out Clean Air Zones. The things they need to talk about, they are not willing to.”
Mr Patterson also told the Post it was “a contradiction” that the government wanted to scrap diesel cars whilst also curtailing the electrification of railways, meaning diesel trains would continue to be used.
“The government told us they have to do something and they decided this is that something.
“But they need to take more time and be bolder, because they are still thinking about people getting around by car.
“Even if engines are cleaner, the congestion will still be there. Councils like Wigan will see more traffic jams in the area, and therefore more pollution.
“There needs to be a real plan to get public transport up to speed so people actually want to make their journey by a train service that can be trusted.”
That bigger plan will be needed after recent figures revealed Wigan had the second highest number of deaths from poor air quality in the city region.
The study by Friends of the Earth found that Wigan’s toxic air contributed to 153 early deaths in 2010, and that the borough will still have illegal levels of air pollution by 2020 if immediate steps are not taken to combat the hazard.