Britain in danger of becoming dirty man of Europe again, says MEP, as UK government block ambitious air quality targets

Molly has slammed the government over blocking measures to improve air quality. Dr Scott Cato joined other Green MEPs and voted against a new directive on emissions ceilings in the European Parliament, accusing the UK and some other European nations of watering down targets to tackle the air pollution health crisis. Addressing the Parliament, Dr Scott Cato said:

“It seems the UK Government is not only hell-bent on making Britain the dirty man of Europe once again, but also lowering ambition for the rest of Europe. Parliament had a chance today to protect present and future generations, but positive targets and measures have been watered down to such a degree that supporting this report would mean condoning a policy of continued air pollution and the health damages it causes.”

Molly Scott Cato also highlighted how today’s Autumn Statement will further undermine efforts to tackle air pollution. She said:

“The direction of travel from this government, revealed through the Autumn Statement and other policy announcements, is clear. More roads generating more traffic; new runways encouraging more flights. This is a government taking us in the wrong direction when it comes to cleaning up our air.”

Molly Scott Cato also used her speech to the European Parliament to raise the issue of air pollution in Bristol, the largest city in her South West constituency, and to praise local campaigners. She said:

“The government has failed to create a clear air zone in Bristol. Air pollution will continue to cause at least 300 premature deaths every year within the city. It has been left to local campaigners to try to protect the people of Bristol from breathing dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution. I am proud that they, together with local councillors, are defending people’s health, but it’s a disgrace that it has been left to them.”

Green councillors in Bristol recently brought a clean air motion to the council [1], calling on the mayor to immediately take steps to reduce deaths and illness linked to polluted air; lobby the government on new air pollution legislation and commit to implementing a Clean Air Zone in Bristol. The motion received unanimous support. Molly concluded:

“I simply do not accept that residents of Bristol or anywhere else should be forced to breathe unsafe levels of air pollution. We need robust action not weak ambition.”

[1] Bristol City Council: Full Council meeting agenda – see page 4