In a debate following a High Court ruling that the UK is breaking international law with toxic levels of air pollution, I said:
“The Minister talked about nuts and sledgehammers and there being no need for a comprehensive plan, but does she not agree that she needs a proper fiscal strategy to incentivise consumers and producers so that we have a sustainable future, with an infrastructure of hydrogen and electric and a commitment to EU air quality standards, yet she has given us none of those things?”
This week’s High Court ruling highlights again the urgency of cleaning up the air we breathe. 40,000 premature deaths each year, as well as millions of pounds worth of NHS cost, are caused by air pollution in the UK. This year the Royal College of Physicians revealed that air pollution harms foetal development and can cause lung and heart disease as well as asthma. This is a public disaster which the Government must act on – to stop breaking the law, to save money and ultimately save lives.
I have presented the Air Quality Bill to Parliament with cross-party support. This Bill aims to save thousands of lives and billions of pounds in healthcare costs through giving more powers to local authorities to establish low emissions zones and pedestrian-only areas, and to additionally promote the development of trams, buses and taxis powered by electricity or hydrogen in designated areas for the purpose of improving air quality.