The independent London newspaper

The Tories’ plans to fight pollution are toothless

11 May, 2017

• I DON’T know what is more depressing, walking along Camden Road, with cars and lorries spewing out the toxic fumes we are all forced to breathe, or the response of the Tory government.

When Theresa May was dragged through the courts and finally forced to publish her plans for cleaning up our air, they were deeply depressing.

I could not believe that one of the greatest health emergencies that we face should receive such a weak response. According to the Royal College of Physicians air pollution causes at least 40,000 deaths a year.

Take the government’s proposals to get rid of the worst polluting diesel cars. The report says a scrappage scheme “could be developed to contribute to the cost of purchasing a cleaner vehicle.” Really? “could be developed”. That’s all Mrs May can say?

And the Tories play another old trick: they push responsibility away from government and onto local authorities like Camden. And even then the plans are hedged around with ifs and buts.

Under their plans each local authority would “develop innovative proposals” to improve air quality in their areas, which are “not required to include a charging zone”.

The draft plans say: “The government believes that charging zones should only be used where local authorities fail to identify equally effective alternatives.”

No wonder Sadiq Khan described the Tory plans as toothless and woefully inadequate. Air pollution is a killer: it is time to act.



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