As a speaker at the Transport Times breakfast debate on air pollution at the Labour Party conference, I told the audience:
- Traffic reduction is the fastest most direct way of reducing pollution. Stop building new roads and invest in public transport instead.
When Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone reduced traffic by 1% a year, despite the population growing by a 100,000 per annum. With Green Party support, he brought in the congestion charge, and an expanded bus fleet.
- All governments (Labour, Conservative and Coalition) have failed to protect human health and prevent premature deaths because they have relied on the technical fix of cleaner vehicles to solve the problem. The UK government waited for the EU to act and the European Commission got scammed by many of the vehicle manufacturers (i.e. defeat devices etc..)
- There is a post-Brexit opportunity to push through a new Clean Air Act and to create an enforcement agency similar to the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. It needs to be independent of DEFRA, set its own regulations, and people must have the right to sue it if the agency fails to deliver.
- Local authorities in air pollution hotspots must introduce Low Emission Zones by next year, or join the UK government in court. They owe it to their residents and to their council tax payers to over-ride objections from the motoring lobby. Client Earth have successfully taken the Government to court and won. In response, the Government’s new strategy is to pass the buck to local authorities. You have been warned.