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Air Quality

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:37 am on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 10:37 am, 22nd February 2018

Minister, I believe that you are working very hard to improve air quality. This is not just about legislation; it is about practical actions to improve air quality. Are you, as Minister, getting enough co-operation from other Government Departments, including enough money from the Treasury, to address this serious issue? A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report found that particulate matter pollution costs some £16 billion a year and dramatically affects people’s lives. Does the Minister agree that preventive action would be far more cost-effective?

The High Court did find that the Secretary of State’s approach to the timetable is “sensible, lawful and rational” but not enough leadership is being provided in respect of all the local authorities with illegally high air pollution levels. Does the Minister agree that a new clean air Act will provide proper leadership, while allowing local authorities real autonomy to address the pollution levels they face at a targeted local level?

I welcome that the Government can be held to account through the courts and through Parliament, but does the Minister agree that the judgment is too focused on compliance when what we need is a much more detailed, wide-ranging and practical air quality plan? Clean air should be a right, not a privilege. I believe we need to hear much more from the Government now and we need to speed up the whole operation of cleaning our air.