Environmental Industries Commission responds to Labour MP Maria Eagle’s speech on air quality at party conference this week
The Labour Partyâ€™s emphasis on tackling air pollution as one of its environmental policy priorities has been described as â€œencouragingâ€ by the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC).
Responding to shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle MPâ€™s speech at the Labour Party conference this week (September 23), the trade association said that although it was â€œvery much a political speechâ€ it was â€œencouraging that air quality is seen as a clear priority for Labourâ€.
And, the EIC, which represents the UKâ€™s environmental technologies and services sector, welcomed Labourâ€™s policy to develop a national framework of low emission zones (LEZs), commenting: â€œThe national framework of low emission zones is something which EIC has lobbied for over several years and will be part of the answer.â€
Speaking at the partyâ€™s conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Maria Eagle MP reiterated (see airqualitynews.com story) the partyâ€™s commitment to deliver a national framework for low emission zones (LEZs) in the UK and to give more power to local authorities to tackle air pollution in their regions. https://airqualitynews.wpengine.com/2014/09/12/labour-launches-air-pollution-campaign/
Labour leader Ed Miliband made no mention of the partyâ€™s air quality commitments in his speech later that day, but Ms Eagle told the audience in the morning: â€œWhile weâ€™re talking about the necessities of life – what about the air we breathe? How can it be that 29,000 of our fellow citizens are dying prematurely each year as a direct result of air pollution? And David Cameron and Nick Clegg have done nothing.â€
She added that children were â€œhaving their lung capacity impaired, with lifelong consequences, because they go to schools situated on the busiest roads in the towns and cities up and down our land most susceptible to pollutionâ€.
The Labour MP also said that the UK â€œhas one of the worst records of any European country for exceeding EU air pollution limits, with 93 per cent of UK zones failingâ€, describing the current governmentâ€™s environmental record as â€œappallingâ€.
In addition, she criticised the government for threatening to make local councils foot the bill for missing EU targets for nitrogen dioxide emissions: â€œTheyâ€™ve localised the responsibility for paying the fines without setting out a national framework for action to tackle the problem. So, unlike David Cameron and Nick Clegg a Labour government will devolve the power, not just the responsibility, to Councils willing to take action against air pollution.
â€œWeâ€™ll introduce a national framework of low emission zones to encourage greener, less polluting vehicles to deliver the cleaner air people need to breathe.â€
Also welcoming Maria Eagleâ€™s speech on air pollution at Labour Party conference, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: â€œThe shadow government is rightly pledging to tackle dangerous air pollution which is second only to smoking for causing premature deaths and blights lives – including for children whose lungs donâ€™t develop properly.
â€œThe capital is not due to meet EU legal limits till after 2030 and the London Assembly Members and councils need to get behind bold and urgent action to tackle this scandal and protect health of Londoners.â€