SERA welcomes the joint Commons select committee report imploring the Government to act on UK air quality. The Government must listen. Phillip Fenton, SERA's National Organiser has his say.
SERA - Labour’s Environment Campaign are extremely pleased that a Commons Select Committee report published today are calling on the Government to introduce a new Clean Air Act. The unprecedented joint report by The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health and Social Care, and transport Committees is highly critical of the Government’s approach and urges the Government to stop putting public health at risk.
SERA’s ‘A Breath of fresh Air’ campaign alongside Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn has been calling for a new and ambitious Clean Air Act since 2016. Many Labour representatives have joined the campaign since then including Matthew Pennycook MP who has said “air pollution is the UK’s leading environmental health risk and needs concerted action at all levels- this should be supported by a new clean air act”. Others including Anneliese Dodds MP have applauded SERA’s campaign; “It’s great to see SERA taking the lead on this and I hope lots of people will take action to pressure the Government to clean up its act”.
Despite the pressure from all sides, the Government were again taken to court recently over its clean air plans, and been judged illegal three times in the high court with them being described as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders. In contrast, Labour have supported SERA’s campaign having adopted the policy of a new clean air act in its 2017 manifesto.
In reaction to today’s news Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed the report “MP’s have backed my calls for a Clean Air Act, scrappage scheme for polluting vehicles and for car makers to pay into a new Clean Air Fund”.
This joint select committee report, like SERA, has identified our poisonous air as a “national health emergency”. The statistics speak for themselves; 40,000 early deaths each year caused by air pollution. As Melanie Smallman, SERA co-chair has said, when looking back at the 1950’s clean air act which transformed air quality then, “We need the same level of commitment to saving people’s lives today; a clean air act fit for the 21st Century”. SERA urges the Government to acknowledge the report findings and take immediate action to improve existing legislation and enshrine the right to clean air into UK law.