A study carried out by Imperial College, London, called 'Transport and Health in London', said the potential damage of traffic fumes was overstated, adding that the DETR had produced 'highly misleading' figures on the pollution caused by traffic in London. It said increased walking and cycling and cutting down on smoking would be much more beneficial to health than reducing traffic.
The research challenges Government claims that increases in fuel duty are helping the environment. Both the Department of Health and the DETR declined to comment on the report this week, and the situation was further muddied with the publication of a new Friends of the Earth report which claimed last year was a 'grim year for pollution' and that traffic was to blame for the worst air quality since records began.
In response, Government officials said FoE was going 'over the top' and misreading the figures. The Government claims it is making progress in cutting traffic and has commissioned a study to investigate the potential to provide better links between the road network and public transport, and develop better interchanges to provide fast access from cars to trains and the Underground.