Air pollution - a wholly inadequate government response

Posted by Natalie Bennett on 6th May 2017

I spoke this morning on LBC radio about the government's latest attempt at a plan to tackle Britain's illegal levels of air pollution, which are causing 40,000 premature deaths each year and costing more than £20 billion a year (figures from the Royal College of Physicians).

Client Earth, who forced the government to release the plan, with the assistance of the High Court, described it in an initial response as "much weaker than we had hoped for".

That's a very mild response, to a so-called plan that has almost no actual concrete actions.

With 37 out of 42 regions of the UK in breach of EU pollution limits, the "plan" weakly says targets can be "reached in most cases by 2021" ... "if local authorities adopt a charging scheme". But this is "not required".

The Green Party says that we could and should be meeting the legal standards by 2018, with a new Clean Air Act, funding investment in walking and cycling and providing a diesel scrappage scheme for people who live in the worst-affected areas, funded by a charge on new diesel vehicles excluding vans.

One important issue that needs to urgently be addressed is the lack of independence of the Vehicle Certification Agency - which relies heavily on funding from manufacturers it is supposed to be policing. 

Sheffield Green Party have been campaigning for action here, and included proposals in our budget amendment to provide for action on air pollution. Please sign our petition to help the ongoing campaign.