Four Commons committees join forces to demand action on air quality

Posted On: 
15th March 2018

Four House of Commons committees have joined forces to demand the Government addresses the “national health emergency” of poor air quality.

The Government has been repeatedly dragged through the courts over its pollution plans
PA Images

In an unprecedented move, the Environmental Audit Committee, the Health Committee, the Transport Committee and the Environment Committee launched the call for action.

They demanded a new Clean Air Act and a new clean air fund financed by the transport industry, as well as a commitment to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars ahead of the current 2040 target.

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It comes after the Government was rebuked for the third time by the courts for failing to produce an adequate plan to tackle pollution.

In February the High Court ruled that the latest policy by ministers to tackle dirty air in 45 local authority areas was unlawful.

The joint report by the four committees said it was “unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air”.

They blasted the Government for being “more concerned with box-ticking and demonstrating compliance than taking bold, affirmative action”.

Neil Parish, the Tory chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, fumed: “The Government’s latest plan does not present an effective response to the scale of the air quality catastrophe in the UK.”

Tory acting chair of the Health Committee Andrew Selous said: “Action must be taken to combat this national health emergency.”

Labour chair of the Transport Committee Lillian Greenwood said as well as trying to reduce the pollution from each vehicle the Government must develop plans to reduce reliance on cars.

She added: "This requires more urgency, imagination and innovation than is being demonstrated by the Government, local councils or transport service providers.”

And Labour chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Mary Creagh said: “Ministers have failed to address the polluted air in our choking cities.”

She added that Ministers must ensure air quality standards meet current levels or better after Brexit.

Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK and is thought to cost Britain £20bn annually.

In January the Government published a 25-year plan to improve the environment which aims to halve the effects of air pollution on health by 2030.