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Tackling the air pollution crisis

by Steve Beasant on 7 June, 2019

Wera Hobhouse tabled a bill to clean up the air we breathe on World Environment Day – read more here ➡

The following article was written by Wera Hobhouse and published on the Lib Dem Website on Jun 05, 2019

Chimey stacks with smoke

Today is World Environment Day, with a focus on air pollution. Air pollution is a major crisis affecting the UK and it is a crisis the Government has failed to take seriously. The Conservatives have lost numerous court cases over the failure to set plans to tackle the toxic fumes that we breathe every day – and that’s not the hot air they’re producing in the Brexit crisis.

Emissions from vehicles are responsible for numerous health problems, from the obvious ones like asthma and lung disease. They can contribute to diabetes, dementia and heart disease.

Unlike the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats have a coherent plan to tackle the air pollution crisis. The Conservatives have failed to set a meaningful date to end new sales of petrol and diesel cars – 2040 is simply too far in the future to make any difference – and have systematically removing incentives for electric vehicles. Liberal Democrats would bring this date forward to 2030 at the very latest.

We would also bring in a Clean Air Act, enshrining the right to unpolluted air wherever you live or work. The Government must also undertake pollution monitoring much wider and more frequently, displaying warning signs in pollution hotspots and sensitives areas such as outside schools and hospitals.

And today, in Parliament, Wera Hobhouse is bringing forward a bill to tackle idling. Leaving your car running while parked is one of the worst contributors to air pollution outside schools. At present, if the councils want to stop this, they must first ask the Government for the power to issue fines for those caught idling in sensitive areas. They also do not have the power to increase the penalty for repeat offences – meaning persistent offenders get off scot-free.

The Vehicle Emissions (Idling Penalties) will give councils the power to meaningfully tackle idling. It will grant all local authorities to clamp down on idling without the need to apply to the Government first and it will grant them the power to issue immediate increased fines for repeat offences.

If Conservatives are serious about tackling the air pollution crisis and want to help combat the problem of health in children, they can support this bill. If they don’t, we know that they are still not willing to help the most vulnerable in society and reduce the toxic air our children breathe.

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