Template Clean Air For Life Letter

You can contact Mayor Rees using this email: mayor@bristol.gov.uk

You can find contact details for your Bristol City Councillor by going to this website and putting in your postcode: www.writetothem.com

Template letter below the line – please put your own words in the square brackets.

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Dear [Mayor Rees or your councillors name]

[Tell them in your own words where you live and why you believe air quality is an urgent issue. Do you live in an area with poor air quality; do you suffer from asthma; how does air pollution impact on you, your family, your community or the citizens of Bristol]

Before lockdown, Bristol’s air pollution was over twice the legal limit, far exceeding the World Health Organisation safe levels.  Bristol’s air quality has exceeded legal limits for 26 years, but for the last 12 weeks of lockdown we have finally been able to experience legally compliant, breathable air.  As lockdown eases, figures for June show that we are already back above the legal threshold. 

Long-term exposure to air pollution causes around five premature deaths in Bristol each week. Toxic air contributes to health conditions including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and lower IQ’s in children. Not only this, but exposure to air pollution increases our chances of being more severely affected by COVID-19.

Disadvantaged communities suffer the greatest consequences of air pollution whilst contributing the least to it. In a recent study, Lawrence Hill stood out as an area having the highest Black and minority ethnic population in the city and some of the highest levels of deprivation, as well as suffering from some of the worst air pollution in Bristol.  11% of deaths in Lawrence Hill (of people over 25) can be attributed to air pollution and 60% more people die from respiratory illness in Lawrence Hill, compared to the rest of Bristol.  

Back in 2019, Mayor Rees said that “We have a moral, ecological and legal duty to clean up the air we breathe. This research (by Kings College, London) emphasises how vital it is that we act quickly to improve health and save lives in Bristol.”  However, despite tabling plans for a Clean Air Zone, the council have now pushed these back, prioritising business over health.  Both central government and Client Earth have threatened legal action against the Bristol City Council over it’s failure to meet clean air targets.  

Urgently implementing a well planned CAZ is an important step towards cleaning up Bristol’s dirty air, but it is not a silver bullet and will not work in isolation.  Major investment is needed in infrastructure for walking and cycling across the city.  Bristol’s public transport network needs to be expanded; services need to be more frequent, reliable and considerably cheaper.  The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has acknowledged that “as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities”.  The Council needs to provide real alternatives to enable people to make positive choices and avoid using a car.

As we begin the recovery from COVID-19, we have a chance to do things differently. We can restart the economy without returning to deadly levels of pollution. We can keep our air clean and our city green and safe, while protecting jobs and businesses, investing in public transport and taking action to tackle the climate emergency.

The tragedy of the pandemic has shown us that we can unite – both locally and globally – to rapidly change our behaviours for the greater good. We know we can make dramatic and effective changes to protect the health of our most vulnerable communities. Bristol City Council is legally responsible for clean air compliance and must act now to make Bristol’s air quality permanently compliant from April 2021.

[Sign out by expressing your concern and your wish that they act swiftly]

Best wishes

[your name]

[your area / ward in Bristol]

Download this letter as a Word document >

Clean Air For Life, not just for lockdown