Our dependency on cars is literally killing us
Five hundred and two people die annually in Northern Ireland as a result of atmospheric pollution. Recently, the Health Minister gave this information in response to a written question in the Assembly. In fact most of those deaths were from vehicle pollution – a consequence of PM10s – particulate matter less than 10 microns across – mainly the product of diesel engines.
The 502 victims is this region's share of the massive total of 29,000 who die annually in the UK. This Northern Ireland total is about ten times the number of deaths from road accidents here in 2013.
It seems obvious to me that –as the most car-dependent region in the European Union – Northern Ireland really needs to wean itself from this car-dependence.
The road-based transport policy that has operated here for most of Northern Ireland's existence means only roads, roads and more roads. It will just mean more and more pollution: the 'saviour', in the form of electric vehicles, has simply never materialised.
This 'hidden cause of death' is one of several reasons I am opposed to the proposed A5 Western Transport Corridor.
I suggest that the Department for Regional Development gives serious thought to the connectivity of the north west with the rest of Ireland, north and south, via a rail alternative.
Why has rail –in existence for 180 years and never bettered – not been considered?