Tag: Transportation

Southwest Airlines Pilot Tammie Jo Shults Praised For ‘Remarkable Calm’ During Horror Mid-Air Emergency

The pilot who safely landed a stricken Southwest Airlines flight after a passenger was almost sucked out of a window has been hailed a “hero” for the “calm” way she handled the horror scenario.

Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy and was accustomed to touching down F-18 jets at 150 miles per hour on aircraft carriers, it was revealed in the hours after Tuesday’s mid-air emergency. 

“We have a part of the aircraft missing”: Listen to the dramatic communications between the pilot of Southwest flight 1380 and air traffic control as plane from NYC comes into Philadelphia for emergency landing https://t.co/CgWfJH1DhYpic.twitter.com/QKmWOXNJ0r

— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) April 17, 2018

These “nerves of steel” are apparent in the understated way Shults relayed the chaotic events unfolding at 32,000 feet to air traffic controllers, as she prepared to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport.

“So we have a part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” Shults calmly tells the controller.

After requesting a medical team meet the plane, Shults is asked if the plane is “physically on fire”.

“No, it’s not on fire but part of it’s missing,” Shults says.

“They said there is a hole and someone went out,” she adds. 

Many are calling Tammie Jo Shults, who landed @SouthwestAir flight 1380 after it lost an engine, a hero. The Navy veteran is being compared to famed pilot “Sully” Sullenberger. https://t.co/ePzsGYta8S

— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) April 18, 2018

The air traffic controller then relays the information back to her in disbelief, “hmm.. you said there was a hole and someone went out”, he says, before details of her flight path are discussed. 

When one of the two engines on the Boeing 737-700 blew and broke apart a piece of shrapnel flew into a window, shattering the glass.

Passenger Jennifer Riordan was almost sucked out and while pulled back inside the aircraft, she later died. Seven other passengers suffered minor injuries.

No it is not on fire but part of it is missing. They said there is a hole and someone went out”
Pilot Tammie Jo Shults

Many of the 144 passengers onboard the flight destined for Dallas praised Shults after disembarking.

She has been compared to hero pilot Chelsey Burnett ‘Sully’ Sullenberger who safely landed a US Airlines flight on the Hudson River in January 2009. 

“The pilot Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly,” Amanda Bourman wrote on Instagram.

“God sent his angels to watch over us.”

Passenger Alfred Tumlinson said: “She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her.”

Passengers identified Shults as the pilot, something Southwest Airlines declined to do. Shults has not commented. 

Passengers praise flight crew of #Southwest1380 and identify pilot on social media as Tammie Jo Shults, who landed plane after engine blew. She’s a native from New Mexico, and was one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots @6abc 📸: Kristopher Johnson pic.twitter.com/NbgjfBv0tb

— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) April 18, 2018

Shults might never have become a pilot if she had not been so determined to fly from a young age.

She is quoted on fighter plane blog F-16.net saying she tried to attend an aviation career day at high school but was told they did not accept girls.

A native of New Mexico, she applied to join the Air Force after studying medicine. The Air Force would not let her take the test to become a pilot, but the US Navy did.

From @AP about one of the Southwest pilots in today’s flight:
“Passengers commended one of the pilots, Tammie Jo Shults, for her cool-headed handling of the emergency. She walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to make sure they were OK after the plane touched down.”

— Elizabeth Dinh (@ElizabethKPTV) April 18, 2018

Hero Pilot Tammy Jo Shults saved all but one passenger from a ‘freak accident’. (187 thwarted?)@realDonaldTrump#Qanon@POTUSpic.twitter.com/GheD4SCjfr

— Bruce Althouse (@PossumHunter7) April 17, 2018

She was one of the first female F-18 pilots and became an instructor before she left the Navy in 1993 and joined Southwest, according to the blog.

A Christian, who is married to a fellow pilot and has two children, Shults said that sitting in the captain’s chair gave her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”

Authorities said the crew did what they were trained to do.

“They’re in the simulator and practice emergency descents..and losing an engine… They did the job that professional airline pilots are trained to do,” National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. 

Lazy Driving: No Bad Thing

I think that most people have something that they’re really passionate about. And mine is cars. I work with them. I drive them. I covet them. I get excited about seeing each wave of new releases, and every one of the tweaked features. I’ve …

Uber Halts Self-Driving Car Tests After Fatal Accident In Arizona

Uber has suspended all its self-driving car tests in the US after a fatal accident in Arizona.

A pedestrian was reportedly crossing the street in the city of Tempe when she was hit by the car.

The incident comes just a year after one of Uber’s self-driving cars was involved in another accident where no-one was hurt but one of Uber’s self-driving Volvo cars was flipped onto its side.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted that the death was “incredibly sad news” and that “we’re thinking of the victim’s family.”

It’s not yet clear what happened but Khosrowshahi said that Uber would fully cooperate with law enforcement to understand what happened.

Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened. https://t.co/cwTCVJjEuz

— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018

We’ve reached out to Uber for an official statement on what might have happened but the Uber Comms Twitter account has already tweeted on the incident.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.” it said.

Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.

— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018

This Is What It’s Like To Be A Passenger In A Driverless Taxi

While we’ve heard a lot about self-driving taxis very few of us have actually seen one actually working, until now.

Over at SXSW in the US, Google’s self-driving car company Waymo has been operating a completely driverless taxi service and to prove it they’ve actually put together some footage of some of the journeys.

As you can see from the video there is no-one in the driving seat and aside from the Waymo employee that’s obliged to be there the only other occupants are the passengers.

What’s really remarkable then about the video is just how unremarkable the car makes self-driving look.

The car interacts with traffic, intersections and all the other daily obstacles that humans have to cope with and it does it without breaking a sweat.

In fact, the car is so good at driving people around that one passenger even manages to drift off:

Now to be absolutely clear, you’re not going to start seeing Waymo’s self-driving taxis filling the streets just yet. Instead this is one of those benchmark moments where a company can show us just how far it has come, and honestly, it feels like they’ve come a long way.

 

Major Rail Delays As Protestors Bring London King’s Cross And Manchester Piccadilly Stations To Standstill

Train passengers faced hours of disruption after protesters stormed the tracks at Manchester Piccadilly railway station and London King’s Cross was forced to close by demonstrators.

All lines in an out of Manchester Piccadilly were suspended as a result of the first demo involving about 100 protesters, which began around 1pm. 

The protest was thought to be in response to the Turkish war on Syrian Kurds, with protestors holding a sign reading: “Stop Turkey from helping ISIS terrorists”.

King’s Cross station was later paralysed following another incident at about 5.30pm on Sunday after dozens of protesters gathered outside.

What’s happening at Kings Cross? pic.twitter.com/IgcZsSX9jm

— Ramanjit (@noble_lawyer) March 11, 2018

In Manchester, National Rail initially warned that trains may be “amended, cancelled or delayed” by up to 90 minutes – but later said disruption was expected “until the end of the day”.

Similar events took place across Europe as part of a national day of action in support of Afrin, the besieged Syrian city which Kurds claim is being “ethnically cleansed” by the Turkish military. Another protest was held at Düsseldorf airport on Sunday.

Men, women, children, babies. On the tracks. The police have arrived….@NetworkRailMAN#ManchesterPiccadillypic.twitter.com/p6ULeZ6W5v

— AngeY (@cannychad) March 11, 2018

@BBCNews currently at man Piccadilly pic.twitter.com/r6ooMBSsec

— Matt Skills (@madebymatts) March 11, 2018

In London, National Rail said trains were able to depart from the station, but services were revised and diverted as passengers were unable to access the platforms.

Transport for London said that the Victoria, Northern, Piccadilly, Hammersmith and City and Circle lines are all affected.

Rail bosses at around 8.15pm said services at one of London’s biggest transport hubs had returned to normal.

In a statement about the incident in London, National Rail said: “Police have successfully dealt with the incident outside the station at London King’s Cross and the station has now been reopened.

“Trains continue to be able to arrive and depart from this station as normal and customers are now able to access the platforms.

“However, as some train services have been revised and diverted, trains to and from King’s Cross may still be delayed or revised as the service recovers.”

CLEARED: Trains are now running normally to and from London Kings Cross now that police have successfully dealt with a large protest outside this station. #KingsCross

— National Rail (@nationalrailenq) March 11, 2018

Disruption at #ManchesterPiccadilly expected until the end of the day https://t.co/ZEsLCRWfU8

— National Rail (@nationalrailenq) March 11, 2018

Superintendent Mark Cleland from British Transport Police said: “While we appreciate and respect the right to peaceful protest, when this compromises the safety of the public and the protesters themselves, any offenders will attract the full investigative resources of BTP.

“Those involved in this afternoon’s incident will be subject to intense investigation with a view to arrest and prosecution.

“All protesters at Manchester Piccadilly have now been safely moved from the tracks and the station has reopened.

“We will continue to maintain a police presence at this station and at other stations across the rail network.”

#VTUPDATE Manchester Piccadilly has been been closed until further notice. Train services running to and from this station may be cancelled, delayed or terminated at and started back from Stockport. https://t.co/ka4aYo2fEI

— Virgin Trains (@VirginTrains) March 11, 2018

In a statement on Facebook, the group Friends of Kurdistan Manchester said: “The Kurdish community and its allies are marching in Manchester, and across the world, in solidarity with the defenders of Afrin and demanding international intervention.

“Turkey is the second-largest army in Nato and his forces have committed numerous war crimes since crossing the border into Afrin.”

 

Uber’s Self-Driving Trucks Are Actually Delivering Freight In The US

Uber has revealed that a fleet of its driverless lorries have actually been safely delivering freight around the US state of Arizona for the last few months.

The undisclosed number of vehicles use Uber’s own self-driving technology and thanks to an agreement with the state, allow the driver to go completely handsfree.

What’s really interesting here is that Uber isn’t pushing this technology as the replacement for lorry drivers, instead it considers its technology to be an assistant for the drivers who will still be an essential part of the process.

The whole system works through Uber’s new trucking business Uber Freight and works by connecting shippers with truckers within the state of Arizona.

In the video above, Uber demonstrates how the self-driving truck can be used to take on the longest stretch of the journey thus reducing driver fatigue and increasing efficiency.

While you probably won’t see driverless trucks around the UK anytime soon the government has confirmed that it is looking into the idea of creating driverless ‘convoys’.

These would involved a lead truck (driven by a human) being followed by two or more self-driving trucks resulting in a form of road train. The lead driver would have ultimate control over the entire convoy.

Then of course there’s Tesla’s Semi, a fully-electric truck that should also come with the same advanced Autopilot technology that you find on most of its Model S and Model X cars.

Travellers On Stranded Trains Warned Against Trespassing On The Tracks

The British Transport Police has warned frustrated commuters not to try and exit stranded trains

Frustrated travellers tempted to self-evacuate from trains stranded by the severe weather conditions have been warned to stay put by the British Transport Police (BTP).

Officers posted a warning on Twitter on Saturday urging passengers to stay on board where they were “far safer” after a number of occasions where people left trains that had ground to a halt in the icy conditions.

On Friday evening passengers stuck on a train near Lewisham station, south London, jumped onto the tracks, further disrupting Southeastern rail services.

A joint message from ourselves and the rail industry…please, please do not self-evacuate from trains. pic.twitter.com/OIEZTH51qv

— BTP (@BTP) March 3, 2018

Southeastern rail turned off power in the area for safety reasons and called for police support as it dealt with the “serious trespass incident”.

The BTP statement said: “This week we have seen a number of incidents of people self-evacuating from trains stranded due to the exceptional weather.

“Whilst we totally understand it isn’t pleasant being trapped on a train, you are far safer on board.

“Self-evacuating from trains is never a good idea as it places you and others at significant risk. You are risking your life trespassing on live tracks.

“Further delays are also inevitable if people self-evacuate as power has to be turned off for safety reasons.”

Emergency workers at Lewisham station after passengers frustrated by delays jumped from trains and walked down tracks near the station

BTP said it recognised that communication would help avoid passengers taking desperate measures, saying it was working to improve the delivery of information.

The snow and ice has caused significant disruption to rail services across the country, with many lines suspended during the worst of the icy blast.

On Thursday evening, passengers on a South Western Railway service between London Waterloo and Weymouth were forced to endure a night without heating or electricity inside the carriages.

The train ground to a halt near Christchurch, Dorset, after the train track providing it with power froze, causing four other trains to stop behind it.

Nissan Announces Self-Driving Taxi Trial In Japan

Would you catch a cab where the driver is in fact the car? Well starting next month, Nissan is trialling a fully driverless taxi service in Japan.Called Easy Ride, the service is essentially an AI-controlled version of a ride-hailing app like Uber.You …

Toxic Air Is A Silent Killer In Britain’s Poorest Communities, Experts Warn

The UK’s poorest communities are being hit the hardest by air pollution – but data shortages mean its full impact remains hidden.

Studies show people in areas where poverty is highest are more likely to live near a busy main road, have to send their children to a school with a ‘poisoned playground’ and suffer from debilitating health conditions, while struggling under “a wider picture of inequality”.

Now experts are warning that councils are too cash-strapped to build up a proper picture of the effects of toxic air in their towns and cities, and are not being properly equipped to tackle the problem, despite promises by ministers to make it a top priority.

<strong>The UK&rsquo;s poorest communities are being hit the hardest by air pollution; London's financial district is seen above, obscured by air pollution</strong>

A 2015 analysis by researchers at Imperial College London and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment revealed the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods in England had higher air pollution levels than the least deprived – but this was not the case in the Netherlands. 

The biggest differences in air pollution levels according to socioeconomic status were found in London, where in areas with poor air quality, 32% of people were from the most deprived backgrounds, versus 7% from the least deprived.

And 85% of the schools most affected by air pollution in the capital have pupils that come from deprived neighbourhoods, residents of which are most likely to suffer from pollution related health issues, with 86% teaching pupils from areas with low car usage – who contribute the least to the pollution problem.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of Parliament’s environment select committee, told HuffPost UK: “We recently heard evidence from Professor Stephen Holgate at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), who told us that the effects of air pollution tend to be magnified in poorer groups, as they have other issues including smoking and obesity which exacerbates the problem.

“He said poor people tend to live on busy roads where traffic queues, and also nearer to railway lines with diesel trains.”

A report commissioned by the RCP last year concluded there are inequalities in the distribution of pollutants in the UK, but the relationship with deprivation is not straightforward.

“Deprived communities live in poorer-quality environments that experience higher levels of air pollution,” it states.

<strong>Data from the Royal College of Physicians shows the relationship between deprivation and environmental conditions&nbsp;</strong>

“There are exceptions where affluent populations tend to live in more trafficked areas, although the impact of congestion charging in central London on reducing levels of NO2 and PM [nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter – the most common pollutants] has been greatest in the most deprived areas.”

Air pollution is thought to be responsible for 50,000 premature deaths every year but campaigners say mapping its full impact on disadvantaged communities in greater detail is complex and challenging, due to the absence of official up-to-date data across the whole of the country.

‘Air pollution’ never appears on a death certificate as a cause of deathMat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK

Mat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK, a website that investigates climate and environmental issues, said: “Part of the antipathy around addressing air pollution seems to be that the health impacts are quite complicated – ‘air pollution’ never appears on a death certificate as a cause of death.

“Experts tell us air pollution is responsible for lots of horrible illnesses, but our investigations show the government continues to task organisations with the fewest resources – local authorities – with tackling the problem. And they’re struggling to deliver.”

The government, which claims improving air quality is one of its top priorities, has asked local councils across the country to submit their own air quality plans to ministers by March this year.

As part of a snapshot study, DeSmog lodged Freedom of Information requests with 77 authorities in the Midlands, to ask to see their reports and impact assessments.

Of those asked, 59 did not have all of their required reports publicly available, 34 were found to have gaps in their reporting up to and including 2016, and some said they were still in the process of writing their 2016 reports. 

A total of 27 were found to have failed to produce any reports up to and including 2015 at all.

<strong>Labour MP and environment committee chair Mary Creagh: 'The effects of air pollution tend to be magnified in poorer groups'</strong>

Harriet Edwards, policy lead on air pollution at the British Lung Foundation, said a lack of clear, top-down direction from the government had led to a mixed approach from councils. 

“From our perspective, there is a lack of consistency in approach and certainly a resource challenge. There is definitely not an air pollution officer in every council,” she said. 

“We know that people who have lung conditions are much more susceptible to poor air quality, and we also know lung disease is a lot more prevalent in lower income groups. 

“It is part of a whole social structure and a wider picture of inequality. People in those groups are much more likely to have a lung condition, to live near a main road and have less access to green space, as well as higher smoking rates within their communities and bad or damp housing conditions.

“And the people on the lowest incomes are generally contributing the least towards the pollution problem, as they tend to drive the least and use public transport more.”

We know that people who have lung conditions are much more susceptible to poor air quality, and we also know lung disease is a lot more prevalent in lower income groupsHarriet Edwards, British Lung Foundation

But the charity warns that those from lower-income groups who do drive are more likely to be using the highest-polluting vehicles. 

Edwards added: “We know clean air zones are the most effective way of cutting air pollution, but we need to make sure it does not exacerbate the problems with inequality that already exist. 

“Telling people in disadvantaged areas that they have to upgrade vehicle asap is not going to work, because they may not be able to afford to upgrade them.

“A proper diesel scrappage scheme would target those groups and give people with long term lung disease the opportunity to give up their vehicle for a less polluting one, or take up the offer of public transport vouchers.”

While many Londoners are aware of the dangers of toxic air, thanks to high profile campaigns and the work of Mayor Sadiq Khan, experts know they are facing a tougher battle to convince people elsewhere to take action.

<strong>London Mayor Sadiq Khan:&nbsp;The biggest differences in air pollution levels according to socioeconomic status were found in the city</strong>

“Something that we always say to people is if we could see the problem, if there were a grey fog hanging over us – which of course there is, we just can’t see it – we would be far more angry and people would be demanding change,” Edwards said.

“It is really important that government leads the approach from the top, so clean air zone networks across the country are similar and ambitious. 

“Charging private vehicles to come in and out of city centres as part of a clean air zone would not be a popular policy – and with local elections coming up, councils may not be prepared to introduce something so drastic – but as we saw with the congestion charge in London, within a couple of years people can start to see the difference and the benefits.”

Alexia Zavros, a 34-year-old mum who lives on a busy main road in Garston, Liverpool, told HuffPost UK she worries about the effects of pollution on her daughter.

Eight-year-old Tehya suffers from eczema and allergies, which are exacerbated by walking around outside.

“The smoke makes it harder to breathe, and the wind makes it harder to breathe as well,” the schoolgirl said.

 

“My eyes get really itchy as well and when it gets itchy it gets irritating.  When the pollution comes out of the back of the car it makes my nose feel very sore.”

Alexia added: “I would like to see our government keep its promise in keeping a safe level of clean air for everyone.  Reducing traffic around school playgrounds, asking people to switch their engines off outside schools and making it mandatory.  Little changes like that would make a big difference.”

In the meantime and the absence of a fully joined-up, nationwide strategy, many lobby groups are taking matters into their own hands. 

If we could see the problem, if there were a grey fog hanging over us – which of course there is, we just can’t see it – we would be far more angry and people would be demanding changeHarriet Edwards, British Lung Foundation

Help Britain Breathe – a collaboration between environmental lawyers ClientEarth, the British Lung Foundation and the Healthy Air Campaign – is running public awareness campaigns outside of London, including in Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Southampton.  

A spokesman said: “What we have encountered is that London, by and large, has the most extensive data network. Across the rest of the country, there is a lot of data around air pollution levels near schools, but not that much else.

“There are some really helpful indicators around increased risk of lung disease and other conditions in urban areas, but a proper cross-section analysis of these data points has not been carried out.

“It would be really valuable to have that data, so we are working closely with local councils to gather as much localised information as we can.”

DeSmog is also planning to carry out its own investigations further afield than the capital, including in Port Talbot, South Wales and Hull.

Researchers will examine the role of the Department for Transport in supporting the government’s pledge to clean up the UK’s air, the impact of pollution in places that are already suffering due to traditional industry closures and the further impact improvement measures will have on those communities – including asking people to give up their cars.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are clear that local leaders are best placed to develop innovative plans, and should be empowered to take action that best suits their area.

“The government has already provided councils with £255 million, as well as expert support and guidance to improve air quality as quickly as possible and we remain keen to see local authorities’ initial plans by March 2018.

“As announced in the autumn budget, we have also allocated £220m through the Clean Air Fund for local areas with the biggest air quality challenge to support people and businesses as plans are implemented.”

Toxic Air Is A Silent Killer In Britain’s Poorest Communities, Experts Warn

The UK’s poorest communities are being hit the hardest by air pollution – but data shortages mean its full impact remains hidden.

Studies show people in areas where poverty is highest are more likely to live near a busy main road, have to send their children to a school with a ‘poisoned playground’ and suffer from debilitating health conditions, while struggling under “a wider picture of inequality”.

Now experts are warning that councils are too cash-strapped to build up a proper picture of the effects of toxic air in their towns and cities, and are not being properly equipped to tackle the problem, despite promises by ministers to make it a top priority.

<strong>The UK&rsquo;s poorest communities are being hit the hardest by air pollution; London's financial district is seen above, obscured by air pollution</strong>

A 2015 analysis by researchers at Imperial College London and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment revealed the most deprived 20% of neighbourhoods in England had higher air pollution levels than the least deprived – but this was not the case in the Netherlands. 

The biggest differences in air pollution levels according to socioeconomic status were found in London, where in areas with poor air quality, 32% of people were from the most deprived backgrounds, versus 7% from the least deprived.

And 85% of the schools most affected by air pollution in the capital have pupils that come from deprived neighbourhoods, residents of which are most likely to suffer from pollution related health issues, with 86% teaching pupils from areas with low car usage – who contribute the least to the pollution problem.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of Parliament’s environment select committee, told HuffPost UK: “We recently heard evidence from Professor Stephen Holgate at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), who told us that the effects of air pollution tend to be magnified in poorer groups, as they have other issues including smoking and obesity which exacerbates the problem.

“He said poor people tend to live on busy roads where traffic queues, and also nearer to railway lines with diesel trains.”

A report commissioned by the RCP last year concluded there are inequalities in the distribution of pollutants in the UK, but the relationship with deprivation is not straightforward.

“Deprived communities live in poorer-quality environments that experience higher levels of air pollution,” it states.

<strong>Data from the Royal College of Physicians shows the relationship between deprivation and environmental conditions&nbsp;</strong>

“There are exceptions where affluent populations tend to live in more trafficked areas, although the impact of congestion charging in central London on reducing levels of NO2 and PM [nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter – the most common pollutants] has been greatest in the most deprived areas.”

Air pollution is thought to be responsible for 50,000 premature deaths every year but campaigners say mapping its full impact on disadvantaged communities in greater detail is complex and challenging, due to the absence of official up-to-date data across the whole of the country.

‘Air pollution’ never appears on a death certificate as a cause of deathMat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK

Mat Hope, editor of DeSmog UK, a website that investigates climate and environmental issues, said: “Part of the antipathy around addressing air pollution seems to be that the health impacts are quite complicated – ‘air pollution’ never appears on a death certificate as a cause of death.

“Experts tell us air pollution is responsible for lots of horrible illnesses, but our investigations show the government continues to task organisations with the fewest resources – local authorities – with tackling the problem. And they’re struggling to deliver.”

The government, which claims improving air quality is one of its top priorities, has asked local councils across the country to submit their own air quality plans to ministers by March this year.

As part of a snapshot study, DeSmog lodged Freedom of Information requests with 77 authorities in the Midlands, to ask to see their reports and impact assessments.

Of those asked, 59 did not have all of their required reports publicly available, 34 were found to have gaps in their reporting up to and including 2016, and some said they were still in the process of writing their 2016 reports. 

A total of 27 were found to have failed to produce any reports up to and including 2015 at all.

<strong>Labour MP and environment committee chair Mary Creagh: 'The effects of air pollution tend to be magnified in poorer groups'</strong>

Harriet Edwards, policy lead on air pollution at the British Lung Foundation, said a lack of clear, top-down direction from the government had led to a mixed approach from councils. 

“From our perspective, there is a lack of consistency in approach and certainly a resource challenge. There is definitely not an air pollution officer in every council,” she said. 

“We know that people who have lung conditions are much more susceptible to poor air quality, and we also know lung disease is a lot more prevalent in lower income groups. 

“It is part of a whole social structure and a wider picture of inequality. People in those groups are much more likely to have a lung condition, to live near a main road and have less access to green space, as well as higher smoking rates within their communities and bad or damp housing conditions.

“And the people on the lowest incomes are generally contributing the least towards the pollution problem, as they tend to drive the least and use public transport more.”

We know that people who have lung conditions are much more susceptible to poor air quality, and we also know lung disease is a lot more prevalent in lower income groupsHarriet Edwards, British Lung Foundation

But the charity warns that those from lower-income groups who do drive are more likely to be using the highest-polluting vehicles. 

Edwards added: “We know clean air zones are the most effective way of cutting air pollution, but we need to make sure it does not exacerbate the problems with inequality that already exist. 

“Telling people in disadvantaged areas that they have to upgrade vehicle asap is not going to work, because they may not be able to afford to upgrade them.

“A proper diesel scrappage scheme would target those groups and give people with long term lung disease the opportunity to give up their vehicle for a less polluting one, or take up the offer of public transport vouchers.”

While many Londoners are aware of the dangers of toxic air, thanks to high profile campaigns and the work of Mayor Sadiq Khan, experts know they are facing a tougher battle to convince people elsewhere to take action.

<strong>London Mayor Sadiq Khan:&nbsp;The biggest differences in air pollution levels according to socioeconomic status were found in the city</strong>

“Something that we always say to people is if we could see the problem, if there were a grey fog hanging over us – which of course there is, we just can’t see it – we would be far more angry and people would be demanding change,” Edwards said.

“It is really important that government leads the approach from the top, so clean air zone networks across the country are similar and ambitious. 

“Charging private vehicles to come in and out of city centres as part of a clean air zone would not be a popular policy – and with local elections coming up, councils may not be prepared to introduce something so drastic – but as we saw with the congestion charge in London, within a couple of years people can start to see the difference and the benefits.”

Alexia Zavros, a 34-year-old mum who lives on a busy main road in Garston, Liverpool, told HuffPost UK she worries about the effects of pollution on her daughter.

Eight-year-old Tehya suffers from eczema and allergies, which are exacerbated by walking around outside.

“The smoke makes it harder to breathe, and the wind makes it harder to breathe as well,” the schoolgirl said.

 

“My eyes get really itchy as well and when it gets itchy it gets irritating.  When the pollution comes out of the back of the car it makes my nose feel very sore.”

Alexia added: “I would like to see our government keep its promise in keeping a safe level of clean air for everyone.  Reducing traffic around school playgrounds, asking people to switch their engines off outside schools and making it mandatory.  Little changes like that would make a big difference.”

In the meantime and the absence of a fully joined-up, nationwide strategy, many lobby groups are taking matters into their own hands. 

If we could see the problem, if there were a grey fog hanging over us – which of course there is, we just can’t see it – we would be far more angry and people would be demanding changeHarriet Edwards, British Lung Foundation

Help Britain Breathe – a collaboration between environmental lawyers ClientEarth, the British Lung Foundation and the Healthy Air Campaign – is running public awareness campaigns outside of London, including in Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Southampton.  

A spokesman said: “What we have encountered is that London, by and large, has the most extensive data network. Across the rest of the country, there is a lot of data around air pollution levels near schools, but not that much else.

“There are some really helpful indicators around increased risk of lung disease and other conditions in urban areas, but a proper cross-section analysis of these data points has not been carried out.

“It would be really valuable to have that data, so we are working closely with local councils to gather as much localised information as we can.”

DeSmog is also planning to carry out its own investigations further afield than the capital, including in Port Talbot, South Wales and Hull.

Researchers will examine the role of the Department for Transport in supporting the government’s pledge to clean up the UK’s air, the impact of pollution in places that are already suffering due to traditional industry closures and the further impact improvement measures will have on those communities – including asking people to give up their cars.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are clear that local leaders are best placed to develop innovative plans, and should be empowered to take action that best suits their area.

“The government has already provided councils with £255 million, as well as expert support and guidance to improve air quality as quickly as possible and we remain keen to see local authorities’ initial plans by March 2018.

“As announced in the autumn budget, we have also allocated £220m through the Clean Air Fund for local areas with the biggest air quality challenge to support people and businesses as plans are implemented.”

Hydrogen-Powered Tram Developed in China

Fuel Cells | Hydrogen Fuel | Public Transit | Transportation

hydrogen-tram

In an effort to reduce China’s harmful and plentiful greenhouse gas emissions, Chinese company Sifang (a subsidiary of China South Rail Corporation) has developed the world’s first hydrogen powered tram. The tram took two years of research and development to complete, and will be powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells. Since this is a tram […]