Tom Watson, John McDonnell and Kerry McCarthy at forefront of new leader Jeremy Corbynâ€™s shadow cabinet, finalised today (September 14)
Bristol West MP Kerry McCarthy has been appointed Labourâ€™s Shadow Environment Secretary, as a number of top jobs in the Partyâ€™s shadow cabinet today (September 14) went to figures involved in championing air quality.
Ms McCarthy will take on responsibility for air quality in Labour as the new shadow Defra secretary in her first front bench role, having been elected to parliament in 2005. She takes over the role from Maria Eagle, who has moved take up the role of Shadow Defence Secretary.
Ms McCarthy will work alongside Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North. He remains as Shadow Environment Minister, and today slammed Defraâ€™s recently launched UK air quality plan as â€œhollowâ€.
Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected as the Labour Partyâ€™s new leader with 59% of the vote on Saturday (September 12), has previously said he will â€œput forward plans to tackle the air pollution crisis that particularly blights our big cities that show cleaner air provision is not just possible but achievableâ€.
During his leadership campaign, Mr Corbyn made 10 pledges on energy and the environment, including: â€œCleaner air – tackling the air pollution crisis in our big cities and committing to full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollutionâ€.
And, Mr Corbynâ€™s leadership campaign coordinator, Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell â€“ who has been a vocal supporter of the Campaign for an Air Pollution Public Inquiry (see AirQualityNews.com story) â€“ was yesterday (September 13) announced as Labourâ€™s Shadow Chancellor.
Also elected at the weekend to serve as Labourâ€™s deputy leader was MP for West Bromwich, Tom Watson, who in July launched a petition calling for a new Clean Air Act (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Meanwhile, other appointments to Mr Corbynâ€™s shadow cabinet include veteran Hemsworth MP John Trickett, who will take over as Shadow Communities Secretary as well as taking on the role of Shadow Minister for Constitutional Convention.
Heidi Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East, takes over the health brief from Andy Burnham. She served previously as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to shadow Defra minister Mary Creagh after being elected to the Commons in 2010, before becoming Opposition Whip and Shadow Minister for London.
Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, takes over as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in what is her first front bench role since being elected to parliament in 2010. Ms Nandy has previously been touted as a potential successor to Mr Corbyn as Labour leader.
Another of the new Labour leaderâ€™s environmental pledges is for â€œan international approach â€“ support internationally agreed, universal standards of regulation of emissions and pollutionâ€ â€“ which would likely include European Union air quality laws, which are currently being re-drafted.
Mr Corbynâ€™s website also states that â€œwe have done much to improve recycling rates, cut emissions and make out air cleanerâ€ but that â€œwe must continue to do moreâ€.
Furthermore, the website states: â€œEnvironmentally friendly transport encourages people to leave their cars at home, and central governmentâ€™s support for the new East London Line and High Speed rail is paying off, as is the Congestion Charge.â€
Mr Corbynâ€™s election win on Saturday coincided with Defraâ€™s launch of a consultation on its draft new air quality plan for the UK to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits.
Campaigners criticised Defraâ€™s decision to launch the consultation on the same day as Labourâ€™s new leader was announced, claiming that the Department had â€œburiedâ€ the announcement (see AirQualityNews.com story).
And, today Labourâ€™s shadow environment minister Barry Gardiner also slammed Defraâ€™s plans as â€œhollowâ€, criticising the Department for â€œpassing the buckâ€ onto local authorities.
Mr Gardiner said:
â€œNew figures have revealed that more than 50,000 people are dying each year because of our polluted air yet the government announced in a written statement today that they plan to do nothing at all. They are passing the buck to local authorities but failing to provide the necessary resources to solve the problem.
â€œThe government have disregarded the Supreme Court judgment, which ordered them to take action to clean up our towns and cities. I am calling on the government to announce a national plan for ultra-low emissions zones and a national strategy to clean up the buses and trucks that are responsible for a huge share of air pollution. Until the government takes its responsibility seriously tens of thousands of people will continue to die unnecessarily every year.â€