Pollution (London)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 17th July 2008.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham 10:30 am, 17th July 2008

What recent discussions he has had with the Mayor of London on noise and air pollution in London.

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I have had no recent discussions with the Mayor of London—[Hon. Members: "Shame!"] He is a very busy man. The good news, however, is that my officials have been in discussions with their counterparts in the Greater London authority on the issue of air quality and pollution, and we will continue to have regular meetings at an official level.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham

Why does the Minister not support Boris's campaign against a sixth terminal and a third runway at Heathrow? The Government's own Environment Agency points to the risk of an increase in morbidity and mortality in densely populated areas of west London such as mine if that huge expansion goes ahead. When will the environmental voice be heard at the Cabinet table in discussion on Heathrow?

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I would be delighted to meet the Mayor of London and I will ensure that my diary is available to him, but, as I say, he is a busy man. On Heathrow, the hon. Gentleman rightly brings forward the concerns of his constituents. The Secretary of State for Transport set out to the House on 8 July what we intend to do in terms of the consultation on Heathrow. The hon. Gentleman mentions the report from the Environment Agency. Obviously, all reports that are submitted in relation to the proposed expansion of Heathrow will be taken into account, as has been set out by the Secretary of State for Transport.

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Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton

The A406 North Circular road passes right through the middle of my constituency and 60,000 vehicles go in each direction every day, causing enormous noise and air pollution. Will my hon. Friend make it a priority to speak to the Mayor about air quality in particular? It is deteriorating daily and something needs to be done.

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Simon Birkett
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Campaign for Clean Air in London

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who sets out the concerns of his constituents in Edmonton about air quality. We have an air quality strategy, which sets out its purpose in London and the responsibilities of the Mayor. As I have said, I am more than happy to meet the Mayor to discuss how he, the Greater London authority and the Government can work best to reduce air pollution in London. My hon. Friend will know that London is a heavily polluted city, and that that pollution is principally brought about by traffic. What would life be like without the congestion charge in those parts of London? Pollution would be considerably higher.

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Dear Minister Thank you for making clear your willingness to meet Mayor Johnson to discuss London's serious air quality problems and 'ensure that [your] diary is available to him'. Given the importance of this subject, please do more and request formally an urgent meeting. You have rightly expressed concern about 'what life would be like without the congestion charge in [the western...

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Photo of Alan Simpson Alan Simpson Labour, Nottingham South

Every mile of car travel emits 12 times as much pollution as a mile of rail travel. In his discussions with the Mayor of London, will the Minister consider commissioning a survey of the methods of reducing passenger and freight movements into and out of the capital and shifting them to rail? If we shifted the subsidies to non-road transport rather than the motorist, that would massively improve the quality of air in the capital.

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Please see the comment logged by the Campaign for Clean Air in London earlier in this debate.

Simon Birkett
Principal Contact
Campaign for Clean Air in London

Submitted by Simon Birkett

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is going to be a long meeting! My hon. Friend will be aware that transport and trains are the responsibility of the Department for Transport. On freight, I can tell him that British Waterways is making a considerable contribution towards ensuring that aggregates being brought to the Olympic site will not be brought in lorries but by barges on canals. That is to be welcomed. Where we can do those things, we are, and the overall structure for ensuring that we keep pollution levels as low as possible for the development of the Olympics is, again, in the gift of the Mayor.

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Nice to see the minister volunteering the use of waterways for freight. Without wishing to denigrate British Waterways' contribution in any way, the late Gwyneth Dunwoody and her colleagues on the Transport Select Committee did an extremely good job of persuading the Olympic Delivery Authority to take greater advantage of the opportunities to move...

Submitted by Bill Ellson Continue reading