July 5th is the 62nd anniversary of the first Clean Air Act becoming law
Local people and communities around the country would be able to take legal action to defend their right to clean air if the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill I introduced today became law. This week’s air pollution episode throughout England and Wales illustrates how widespread the legal actions could become, as people seek to get corporations to change their behaviour and to force councils and government bodies to reduce pollution.
A Citizens Commission would be set up as part of the Clean Air Bill to help parents and others to take action. Yesterday, the BBC reported that a 9 year old girl’s fatal asthma attack has been linked to illegally high levels of air pollution. The Attorney General is looking at the case as this is the first time that an individual death has been attributed to breathing bad air.
Given the premature deaths from air pollution and the complacency of successive governments, I think that making clean air a human right is the quickest way of getting the problem sorted. I think that giving parents and communities the ability to take legal action would focus the minds of the car manufacturers, the civil servants and local authorities. We should all enjoy clean air even when we are working in a busy city or living under an airport flight path. This is detailed legislation that is ready to go, and I would be more than happy for the government to adopt the Bill wholesale.
I want to thank Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London for his help with making this Bill a reality and also Kate Harrison, of Harrison Grant Solicitors, for helping to draft this legislation.
The ‘Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill 2018’ would enshrine the right to clean air in UK law across all forms of air pollution: indoor and outdoor; health and the environment; and, for the first time, require joined up thinking on climate change and local air pollution. It proposes a ‘top-down’ approach that would be based on the highest global standards and the best available science.