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Liberal Democrats demand a Clean Air Act

March 18, 2019 7:54 PM
By Rugby Lib Dems

Clean Air Paddox CllrsLiberal Democrats demand the Conservative Government bring forward a Clean Air Act enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air.

The proposals, set out at the Liberal Democrat conference in York on Saturday 16 March 2019, are based on World Health Organisation guidelines and would be enforced by a new Air Quality Agency.

If successful, the Clean Air Act would also demand air pollution testing took place more widely and frequently, with warning signs displayed in pollution hotspots and sensitive areas, such as near schools.

Speaking after the debate, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

"The Tories are just not taking air pollution seriously, despite current levels contributing to diabetes, dementia and heart disease - well as impacting children in the womb and the lungs of children at school.

"It is an absolutely disgraceful dereliction of duty. However, the way things are today are not the way they have to be. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.

"That is why we are calling for real action backed by the ambitious legislation we need to clean up our air and tackle this growing public health crisis."

Notes to editors:

Please see the text for motion 'Cleaning Up the Air We Breathe: How to Tackle Road Pollution' below.

Conference notes with concern:

  1. The dangerous rise in the emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates, and ozone (O3).
  2. The impact of these emissions cause 40,000 early deaths each year.
  3. That emissions have serious impacts of children's health particularly impairing lung development.
  4. That the UK has broken the legal limits, set by the EU, for NO2 every year since 2010.
  5. That road transport is responsible for 80% of roadside NO2 emissions.
  6. That the EU is currently responsible for ensuring the government complies with air quality legislation, and that this oversight would be lost after Brexit.

Conference believes that:

  1. People have the right to live in an area with unpolluted air.
  2. All laws currently governing air quality currently afforded under EU regulations must be upheld in UK law.
  3. The government must be fully accountable for missing any air quality targets and government policy must support cleaning up the air we breathe.

Conference calls on the Government to:

  1. Introduce a ban on the sale of new non-hybrid diesel and petrol cars and small vans within the next decade.
  2. Replace their own current vehicle fleet with electric, hybrid or other ultra-low emission vehicles by 2022.
  3. Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency, enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air wherever people live.
  4. Undertake air pollution testing more widely and frequently, with warning signs displayed in pollution hotspots and in sensitive areas such as near schools.
  5. Reform Vehicle Excise Duty so that it is graduated to reflect levels of both NO2 and CO2 emissions in every year.
  6. Introduce a ban on idling in vehicles, near schools, hospitals, parks and care homes, with fines for those who ignore the ban.
  7. Reverse the cuts to electric vehicle subsidies and extend them by exploring VAT reductions for electric vehicles.
  8. Use its new powers to standardise plug sockets for electric vehicles.
  9. Invest in research into alternative technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, as well as into battery technology.
  10. Provide the funding to retrofit or replace all diesel buses operating in urban areas within five years.
  11. Introduce new planning legislation ensuring that all new developments and large-scale regeneration schemes include electric car charging facilities.
  12. Invest significantly in schemes to speed up the strategic roll-out of rapid charging points. Work with local authorities to expand them to popular in-town locations such as public car parks and supermarkets.
  13. Invest in residential on-street charging, using the existing lamp post infrastructure wherever possible so as not to clutter the pavement.
  14. Provide greater and more ambitious support for all forms of public transport and for active travel initiatives involving walking and cycling.

Conference reaffirms pledges in the Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto to:

  1. Extend ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities.
  2. Require all private hire vehicles licensed to operate in urban areas should be electric, hybrid, or capable of running on other ultra-low emission technology, within five years.
  3. Reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.