Clean Air and Water
Creating a cleaner environment for all generations to come
Target: By 2030, reduce mortality as a result of PM2.5 pollution exposure by 75% from 2019 levels
Why this theme?
Clean air and water are basic human rights. However, in many parts of the country, with the West Midlands included, it is not a guarantee that the air we breathe and the rivers we cherish are unpolluted. Every year around the region, approximately 900 people die as a direct result of poor air quality and 5.1% of the population die early as a result of on-going exposure. As time goes on, research is beginning to unveil the problems arising as a result of poor air quality, linking the issue to many other health impacts that will reduce quality of life for the population. Meanwhile, watercourses that play a fundamental role in halting the trend of declining biodiversity in the region remain over-polluted, an issue that needs to be reversed for the sake of our precious natural environment.
Development of the target
By setting this target, SWM hopes to encourage our stakeholders to influence and create change for a cleaner and healthier West Midlands. We used the Clean Air Strategy and the NHS Long Term Plan as a basis for the target, as well as consulting with experts such as the WM-Air team based at the University of Birmingham (see below) and the Environment Agency. In addition, we hosted an event in June 2019 to gain feedback on the development of this theme and the challenges we needed to consider.
We are still working to provide a target that focuses on Clean Water. As yet, we have been unable to access the necessary data to create a suitable evidence based target; we will continue to liaise with the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to develop this.
In April 2020, we changed the baseline for the clean air target to 2019 from 2020 as a result of the likely skewed data that will have been established as a result of the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak.
What our Members are doing
The University of Birmingham have been heavily involved in researching air quality and its impact on society. The University established the WM-Air team, led by Prof. William Bloss, to support the improvement of air quality and associated health, environmental and economic benefits in the West Midlands. The project has support from a wide range of organisations across the region that have partnered with the team, including the the West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands, and HS2.
Severn Trent Water work everyday with arguably our most precious natural resource and see the importance of protecting and ensuring that its quality and accessibility is good for the sake of the regional population and local wildlife. Working with organisations such as the Wildlife Trust and RSPB, Severn Trent employs 21 rangers to take care and run visitor sites and to protect and nurture the wildlife that uses them as their homes.