Greens welcome EU action on UK over toxic air

Molly has welcomed an urgent EU deadline for the UK to detail how it is to clean up its act on air pollution. The EU Commission has given Britain and eight other states just over a week to show how they will comply with EU air pollution laws or face the European Court of Justice.

However, Molly also warned that Post-Brexit, British citizens will be ‘left gasping for fresh air’ because of the lack of a legal framework to tackle air pollution, which regularly exceed EU limits. She has repeated a Green Party call for a Clean Air Act to ensure the government has a legal obligation to tackle air pollution after we leave the EU.  

 Molly said:

Two thirds of the British population live in towns and cities where air pollution levels breach EU legal limits. The South West is not spared, and towns and cities including Bristol, Swindon, Plymouth, Exeter and Bournemouth all have air pollution hotspots that regularly exceed safe legal limits. This is a public health crisis that leads to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK and costs the UK taxpayer more than £20bn each year.

“This government has stood idly by as Britain chokes. We remain the dirty man of Europe on air quality and the Tories continue to display an attitude of indifference towards their duty to safeguard the health of British citizens.

“The fact that it has taken the threat of court action by the European Commission and Environmental Lawyers to force the UK government to act over this public health crisis is a shameful indictment of the Conservatives’ irresponsible and deadly apathy.

“Let’s be thankful we are still members of the EU which can use the courts to force the UK to act. But post-Brexit, if we are not to be left gasping for fresh air, we will need a new Clean Air Act. This is a Green backed proposal which is supported by the overwhelming majority of British citizens and would ensure the government has a legal obligation to tackle air pollution after we leave the EU.

“Greens have a clear idea what measures are needed to clean up our air. We need to make the polluter pay by increasing fuel tax especially on dirty diesel; we need comprehensive ‘Clear Air Zones’ which enable Councils to charge or prevent the dirtiest vehicles entering our town and cities; we need incentives for motor manufacturers to switch rapidly to producing electric and hydrogen vehicles; and we need massive investment in public transport – especially local rail and bus services – and a big push on active travel – making walking and cycling safe and convenient for all.”