Supporting the report by ResPublica, Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said he welcomed the suggestions on improving air quality in UK towns and cities.
The report comes as Clean Air Zones are to be established in various UK cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham. The Zones will require drivers to pay for access. ResPublica believes more zones need to be established with monies reinvested into clean air projects. The report highlights how drivers could be incentivised to modify their car to cleaner gas power through vouchers to offset the cost of vehicle upgrades.
Parish said, “The state of air quality in urban areas is a national disgrace and it’s high time the Government took comprehensive action to keep air pollution levels below legal limits. The report comes at just the right time, with the Government legally obliged to produce a new draft air quality plan by April. It contains a whole string of policy recommendations – from Pollution Reduction Vouchers to get the dirtiest vehicles of our roads, to support for retro-fitting taxis and buses in Clean Air Zones – which the Government should carefully consider.
“The report rightly highlights how the devolution agenda and the election of new Metro-Mayors is a prime opportunity to put air quality to the top of the political agenda. I hope Defra, the DfT and wider Government will consider the recommendations over the coming months.”
Dr Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, said: “I welcome many of the recommendations made in this report by ResPublica. The implementation of Clean Air Zones provides an opportunity to really tackle the issue of poor air quality if done right. These zones should be implemented alongside a strong public awareness campaign and real opportunities for drivers to transition away from polluting vehicles and towards low emission vehicles as ResPublica rightly outline.”
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “I am pleased to see this report, which outlines the ambitious measures needed if we are to clean up our air and improve people’s health. It’s clear that air pollution isn’t limited to four or five cities, and I hope the government will commit to working with all cities who want to achieve clean, world-class transport networks. Nottingham is leading the way on this and now Ministers must give the council the powers it needs to go even further.”
Photo by David Dixon