Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Air Quality

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 10:37 am, 22nd February 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for that. It is important, as he points out, to remember what we have already achieved on air quality, as well as what we are doing with local authorities. To remind the House, air pollution has improved significantly since 2010: nitrogen oxide emissions are down 27%, sulphur dioxide emissions are down 60%, particulate matter emissions are down by about 11%, and volatile organic compounds emissions are down by 9%. That is why we are investing £3.5 billion to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions. Some of that is £1 billion to support the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles. Specifically with regard to the air quality plan, we set aside nearly half a billion pounds to help local authorities to develop and implement their local air quality plans. About £90 million has been given through the Green Bus fund and we continue to try to reduce emissions in other ways.

I remind my hon. Friend that we intend to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. He talked about a wide-ranging plan. I have been working on that for a while. He knows that we will be bringing forward a comprehensive clean air strategy. In particular, I am absolutely focused on particulate matter. That is why we issued a call for evidence on domestic burning with regard to smoky coal and wet wood. We are looking forward to receiving more responses to that. On money from the Treasury, we have been given substantial funds to try to work this through. I agree with him about prevention in relation to issues such as particulate matter.

With regard to powers in a clean air Act, we need clean air action. Councils and Government already have a lot of powers. It is about being prepared to make very difficult decisions at times. That is why I urge the leaders of councils, including those I wrote to yesterday, to really grip this issue on behalf of the people they represent and we represent. It really matters that we take direct, effective local action to ensure the future health of our citizens.