Air Quality Plan ‘cynical’ and doesn’t do enough to save lives now
Friends of the Earth described today’s air pollution announcement as a ‘cynical’, headline-grabbing move which passes the buck of saving lives to local authorities as the government reveals its Air Quality Plan today (26 July).
Reports suggest that the much anticipated Air Quality Plan will include the welcome announcement that the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned from 2040. However, it fails to mandate the introduction of Clean Air Zones – areas in which the most polluting vehicles are charged to enter. It is reported that the government will instead announce a fund which will be made available to local authorities for them to decide how to tackle dirty air locally.
The plan also reportedly doesn’t include a much needed diesel scrappage scheme to support drivers to move away from the most polluting vehicles. Friends of the Earth has been calling for Theresa May to provide a safety net for drivers by introducing a comprehensive diesel scrappage scheme funded by a ‘diesel-gate levy’ on manufacturers.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Oliver Hayes, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner said:
“Ministers know as well as anyone that Clean Air Zones are essential to give us breathable air fast. Their reported omission from the plans is a scandalous response to a health crisis that leads to 40,000 premature deaths annually.
“This is a cynical move by the government to grab the headlines by announcing changes for 23 years’ time and failing to enact measures which will curb pollution in UK towns and cities now. This is what the courts demanded and what the UK’s choking streets are crying out for.
“Today’s announcement is weak on Clean Air Zones, weak on a scrappage scheme, and passes the buck to local authorities. Lives will continue to be cut short because the government hasn’t got the guts to restrict where the worst polluting vehicles can go.”
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