Having clean air to breath should be a fundamental human right that we can all take for granted.

Yet, here in Wales, twenty years into the 21st century, air pollution contributes to around 2,000 deaths annually, according to Public Health Wales.

That’s 6% of all deaths.

The effect on children can be particularly harmful since pollution can affect the development of their lungs, and some children are born already suffering the effects having been affected in the womb.

We owe it to ourselves, our children and the next generation to tackle this problem once and for all.

This week Plaid Cymru held a debate in the Senedd about what we in Wales could and should do to clean up our air.

The current system is very patchy since it depends on how much weight individual local authorities give to the matter.

There are examples of good practice and bad practice.

A recent example of a failure to tackle air pollution was seen in Bridgend, where the council approved a housing development next to an air quality management area, with the planning officers claiming that their 2013 LDP carried greater legal weight than the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

An example of a local authority taking positive action to prioritise clean air was seen closer to home, when Newport Council rejected a planning application at the former Caerleon campus site precisely because of concerns over air quality.

If all our councils followed this good example then we’d be halfway there, but this is not happening.

So what’s Plaid Cymru’s solution?

We’re calling on the Welsh Government – currently run by Labour – to bring forward a Clean Air Act.

This would improve monitoring so that we know where the problems are and place a duty on local authorities to improve air quality.

It would enshrine the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines into law.

It would mandate Welsh Government to produce a statutory air quality strategy every five years.

We’d also like to see the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act strengthened to include national and local targets for reducing levels of particulate matter, which is the main pollutant in our air.

In order for regulation to work it has to go hand-in-hand with directed, strategic action: so let’s see a comprehensive and ambitious national green transport plan to reduce the main cause of pollution by encouraging a modal shift towards public transport.

Long-term planning and proper prioritisation like this will end up saving lives.

And if the current Welsh Government fails to act, then next year’s Assembly election will be an opportunity for people to elect a government that will.