THE Newbury Friends of the Earth group encouraged motorists to turn off their engines while waiting at the Thatcham level crossing on Friday in a bid to ease pollution in the area.
The group opening a ‘clean air and no idling zone’ at the crossing follows a study by Newbury Friends of the Earth called Unmasked: the true story of the air you’re breathing, which revealed several locations across the UK have higher levels of air pollution than previously thought.
Spokesman for Newbury Friends of the Earth Adrian Foster-Fletcher said: “Today we’ve highlighted the matter by showing how the majority of car drivers can’t be bothered to switch off their engines even when they know it’ll be several minutes before the barrier will be raised.
“A car can travel one mile for every three minutes that it’s left idling.
“Air pollution is an invisible killer. We know road traffic in the town centre is the biggest problem – and diesel is the worst of all.
“This is exacerbated by drivers leaving their engines idling outside schools, the station etc.
“We need bolder and quicker action to address this and to get diesel vehicles off our roads and encourage people to walk and cycle more.”
According to a new Friends of the Earth report, 40,000 early deaths occur in the UK because of health complications caused by pollution to conditions such as cancer, asthma, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and changes linked to dementia.
Air pollution is linked to heart disease, lung cancer, worsening asthma and poor lung development in children.
The Government has recently been ordered by the High Court to produce a new air quality plan to address illegal levels of pollution in the country.