The health of the people is the highest law

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.

Continue reading “The health of the people is the highest law”

Give Metro Mayors more power to act on air pollution

I have tabled the following amendment to the Environment Bill that would enable Metro Mayor to set tough air pollution standards for their area and give local authorities more power to act on sources of bad air such as wood burning stoves.

Environment Bill Amendment 

 
Proposed amendment to grant powers to local authorities and metro mayors in air quality
improvement areas to apply restrictions to the use of combustion plant as specified in
Regulations made by the Secretary of State and for ending the sale and use of wood burning
appliances.
 
Insert the following new Clause — 
“Air quality improvement areas
(1) Where the air in a local authority area or any part thereof exceeds—
(a) any national air quality target(s) set for NO2, PM2.5 or PM10 under section 1
(Environmental targets), 
(b) the PM2.5 air quality targets set under section 2 (Environmental targets: particulate
matter), or
(c) the latest published World Health Organization guidelines for one or more air pollutants
referred to in (a) or (b),

the local authority or the metro mayor for that area may designate the area, or
part thereof, as an air quality improvement area.

(2) Any designation under subsection (1) must— 
(a) state the date and time from which the designation is to take effect,
(b) state which restrictions are to apply in the area and to which types of plant,
(c) state the date and time from which each restriction is to apply (which may not be before
the date and time referred to in subsection (2)(a)), and
(d) include a map of the area which exceeds any air quality target or guideline referred to in
subsection (1) and which is to be designated.
 
(3) At least two months before such a designation takes effect, the designating local authority
or metro mayor must publish details of the designation giving a description of its
effect (including which restrictions are to apply in the area)—

(a) on the local authority’s or the metro mayor’s website, and
(b) by advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the area to which the
designation relates, such notice to be published on two separate occasions, the
first publication to be not more than seven days after the making of the
designation. 

(4) The restrictions that the local authority or metro mayor may state are to apply in the area
to which the designation relates are such restrictions as may be applied in an air
quality improvement area under regulations under this section.
 
(5) The Secretary of State must make regulations specifying the restrictions that may
be applied in an air quality improvement area.
 
(6) Regulations under this section may—

 
(a) include restrictions as to the type of plant that must or may not be used in an air quality
improvement area including by reference to the amount of NOx and PM emitted by that
plant,
(b) include restrictions as to the time of day, period or occasion when the operation of
stationary generators is prohibited in any premises in an air quality improvement area
except during disruption of the supply of electricity to the premises,
(c) specify that restrictions apply only in respect of plant to be installed after a particular date,
(d) make different provision for different sizes or types of plant,
(e) make supplemental, incidental, transitional or consequential provision, and
(f) provide that breach of any of the regulations is to be an offence punishable on summary
conviction by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
 
(7) All wood burning appliances shall be prohibited from –
(a) sale in England from 1 st  January 2026, and
(b) use in England from 1 st  January 2029, subject to any necessary exemptions set out by
the Secretary of State in regulations.
 
(8) Any exemption referred to in subsection (7)(b) above must be limited to properties that
are—
(a) domestic residences, 
(b) located outside urban areas, and
(c) not connected to the gas grid.
Re-number LORD TOPE’S sub-clauses (7) and (8) as sub-clauses (9) and (10).
 
(9) Regulations under this section—

(a) are to be made by statutory instrument, and
(b) are subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House
of Parliament.
(10) In this section—
 
“local authority” means—
(a) any unitary authority in England,
(b) any district council in England, so far as it is not a unitary authority, 
(c) the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority
and, as respects the Temples, the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple and the
Under-Treasurer of the Middle Temple respectively.

 
“metro mayor” means a mayor of a combined authority
 
“NOx” means oxides of nitrogen comprising the sum of the volume mixing ratio (parts
per billion by volume) of nitrogen monoxide (nitric oxide) and nitrogen dioxide
expressed in units of mass concentration of nitrogen dioxide (μg/m3
microgrammes per cubic metre);
 
“plant” includes—
(a) boilers fired by gaseous fuels which have a rated heat output of less
than 1MW,
(b) non-road mobile machinery,
(c) stationary generators with a rated thermal input equal to or less than 1MW,
(d) solid fuel boilers with a rated heat output of less than 1MW,
(e) combined cooling, heat and power plant, and
(f) combined heat and power plant;
“PM” means any particulate matter;
“unitary authority” means—
(a) the council of a county, so far as it is the council of an area for which there are
no district councils;
(b) the council of any district comprised in an area for which there is no county
council;
(c) the council of a London borough;

 
“wood burning appliances” means any fireplace, stove or other heating or cooking
device that is fuelled by burning wood.

Children deserve clean air

This week, I attended the Clean Air Parents’ Network Reception in Parliament, where I met with parents and carers who are campaigning to protect children and babies from dirty air.

The Clean Air Parents’ Network launched their new campaign at the reception, calling for a Clean Air for Children Programme, which would introduce a range of emergency measures to protect children and babies’ lungs from illegal and harmful levels of air pollution where they learn and where they play.

The Clean Air for Children Programme sets out a clear plan which ensures local action, with the support of central government, to address air pollution and protect children and babies from its harmful effects.

All children should have the best start in life, and the air they breathe should not stunt the growth of their lungs or contribute to them developing future illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer. Yet despite this, children across the UK are exposed to dirty air every day, and thousands of schools, nurseries and playgrounds are located near roads with illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

Children living in the most deprived areas are four times more likely to have under-developed lungs, whilst for the 1 in 11 children in the UK who have asthma, air pollution is not a distant threat but an immediate risk to their health and wellbeing.

If you’re a parent or carer, you can join the Clean Air Parents’ Network by signing up on their website or joining the Facebook group.

Clean Air Bill must include new agency to enforce the right to clean air

Four Parliamentary Committees have issued a joint report on air pollution today. One of its key recommendations is that there needs to be a new Clean Air Bill and that should establish a right to clean air. I have already committed to bringing forward such a Bill in the Lords, drafted by Clean Air London.

The pressure is building on the Government to act. Geraint Davies MP in the Commons and myself in the Lords, are both bringing forward draft bills to lay out what the Government needs to do. We need clean air to be a human right and with Brexit happening in the next two years, we need to urgently create an independent, environmental enforcement agency. I believe that we need a Citizen’s Commission to help people take the government and corporations to court if they fail in their responsibilities to public health and the environment. The loss of European Commission oversight with Brexit is both a threat to existing environmental protections and also, an opportunity to create something stronger in its place.