Although old train engines and boats do contribute to air pollution, they will be fairly localised and minimal compared with other emissions being pumped out by, for example, the Government building new roads or opening new coal mines—or indeed allowing the growth of incinerators all over the country that operate without proper regulations.
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The City of London Corporation, London Councils, Clean Air London, a Lib Dem Peer and a Green Peer: these are people you might not think would naturally link together—but on this issue we are speaking with one voice. There is a problem and we have to fix it, and this is how you can fix it.
Please understand that this is a public health crisis. I have tried to get the issue of air pollution into other Bills, but I was always put off and told that whatever Bill it was was not the right Bill to put air pollution in. When we are talking environment, this, the Environment Bill, is the Bill to add air pollution as a serious issue.
This is an almost sneaky little piece of legislation, because it is presented as a regulation to continue the status quo but it is actually backfilling a regulatory loophole that was created by the Government; it did not have to be created. I am concerned that this little loophole has allowed some highly polluting vehicles to be sold in Northern Ireland. It is only in September of this year that the loophole will close, so highly polluting vehicles can still be sold until then. Clearly, it was negligent of the Government to allow this to happen. For some strange reason, they dropped Northern Ireland out of the EU emissions regime two weeks before the end of the transition period and then allowed a nine-month window of lawlessness when it came to selling polluting vehicles.
Air pollution is a national health crisis: it costs us billions every year. It affects the old and the young. Several of us have mentioned Ella Kissi-Debrah, who lived next to a dirty, filthy road and died at nine years old because of her asthma. It is children who will have health problems all their lives because of living near polluted roads. This Bill is an ideal opportunity to fix this problem. We know what the solutions are, and they are here in these amendments.
My amendments seek to create a comprehensive system of targets, monitoring and funding to reduce air pollution levels to World Health Organization guideline levels. It is not possible to end this crisis without significant public spending. The Government must make the money available to local authorities to transform their communities and clean up their air.
We all know that the international waste economy is a nasty, polluting system, where the richest countries are using the poorest countries as dump sites—as giant landfill sites. Many people would be outraged to see that the recycling that they so carefully do is just baled up and dumped on poor countries and among poor communities, who then have to suffer the pollution that it causes.
I am also concerned about the increasing capacity of UK incinerators. From what I can see, the planned capacity of these incinerators will soon far exceed the amount of waste that the UK produces. Many local authorities are, of course, tied into 25-year contracts with such businesses. This means they will be looking around for waste to burn.
Amendment 104 would enable penalties to be issued, taking into account a whole host of factors such as the gravity of the failure, any intention of negligence, and previous failures by the authority. The inclusion of the principles of effectiveness and proportionality makes my amendment wholly reasonable, and is necessary for ensuring that the ambition in this Bill is not trashed by poorly governed public authorities.
My Amendment 75 to the Environment Bill would flesh out the environmental principles so that they reflect a much broader set of principles, written in simple, understandable language. For example, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle would actually be explained and defined. It would also add things such as using the “best available scientific knowledge”, the principles of public participation and the principle of “sustainability” to take into account the health of present generations and the needs of future generations.
Taken together, these amendments would create an accessible blueprint for our country and for the planet. They would set out the clear environmental principles on which our future would be founded, and require—not simply invite—the Government to implement those principles in all areas of policy. This is the type of legislation that a Green Government would implement, these are the principles that we would apply and these are the ways in which we would make ourselves accountable to Parliament, to the courts, and to future generations. Continue reading “‘Due Regard’ is a get out clause”→
I have worked the issue of air pollution on since 2001. The sources of air pollution are widespread: industry, transport, buildings and agriculture are all major contributors. We have to understand how each of those can be cleaned up and improved, not just for all of us who breathe it in in the cities, but for farmers who also experience a huge amount of pollution in their daily lives.
Air pollution has been found to cause death after a coroner ruled it was a cause of death for Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. The coroner in Ella’s case said that “there is no safe level for Particulate Matter” in air and recommended a reduction in the national pollution limits to bring them into line with World Health Organization guidelines, which is exactly what my Amendment 29 would do. Continue reading “Environment Bill: My air pollution amendment”→