18 May 2017
Air pollution is a public health emergency. The government agrees but has spent 7 years avoiding doing anything about it.
Air pollution kills around 40,000 people a year in the UK. It is especially harmful if you are young, old and or already ill. The costs to health and the NHS are heavy.
The government has been taken to court three times for not carrying out its legal duty to reduce illegal pollution levels. It has preferred to spend money on legal costs rather than on action to safeguard the nation’s health. It tried to dodge a court order to produce an effective air pollution plan for fear it would damage its election campaign.
The feeble plan the government has now published has few concrete proposals and will leave the nation breathing filthy air for years to come. Crucially, it fails to get companies who cheated vehicle emissions tests to pay for the damage they have caused our health and environment. This would help fund comprehensive action to clean up our air. In the US one car company alone has been fined 14 billion dollars. Here in the UK not a single penny has been paid by car company cheats.
Unlike the government, the Green Party is committed to taking immediate action on air pollution, with investment in public transport, cycling, walking and electric vehicles. We’d properly fund and expand the Clean Air Zone network and introduce a Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel vehicles alongside a diesel scrappage scheme. We’d cut investment in dirty fuels and reinvest in clean renewable energy.
The air pollution emergency shows clearly whose interests are a priority for Theresa May’s government. Her ‘strong, stable government’ is in the interests of the big motor and dirty fuel corporations at the expense of our health and the health of the next generation.