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Concerns are rising about the air quality to be found in our big cities, especially in London. As cities grow in size and the volume of traffic increases, the air is being filled with noxious fumes expelled from the exhaust pipes of the buses, the taxis, the cars and the lorries which drive through the busy streets. A congestion charge is not an answer to the problem as it just shifts the source of the trouble somewhere else, and the death rate remains too high.

Although the cause was different, this is not the first time that something of the sort has happened, as although street traffic was not petrol driven, fires were lit in every kitchen or living room sending smoke up every chimney to pour out into the atmosphere. The advent of natural gas in place of coal gas, and the gradual electrification of the home put an end to those murky days, but the invisible clouds of noxious gases coming from a million exhaust pipes cause an alarming number of unnecessary deaths.

The electric car is being proposed as the answer to the problem, but should also include goods vehicles and public transport, as these are the main culprits. It has been tried before. Electric trams were common, even in 1900, and trolley buses were introduced in Leeds in 1911, As far back as I can remember, there were double-decked trams running on the streets of Hull.

The proposals, however, are that the new vehicles should be battery driven for flexibility, and this will necessitate a massive increase in charging points as well as a similar expansion of the energy producing power stations. There is a lot of thinking still to be done and costs to be reckoned with.

Bob Weighton

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