Geraint Davies, the Labour MP for Swansea West, has renewed his campaign for the introduction of a new Clean Air Act, after introducing proposed legislation to Parliament today (22 November).
Mr Davies’ Private Members Bill, which is expected to have a second reading on 1 December, proposes the introduction of national air quality targets and mandatory clean air zones.
Private Members Bills can be introduced to Parliament by backbench MPs, but typically have little chance of making into law without support from across the chamber.
The full text of the Clean Air Bill states that it will require the Secretary of State (for Environment) to: “set, measure, enforce and report on air quality targets, to make provision about mitigating air pollution, including through the use of clean air zones; to make provision about vehicle emissions testing; to restrict the approval and sale of vehicles with certain engine types; and for connected purposes.â€?
Mr Davies’ Clean Air Bill has been supported by MPs including Hilary Benn, Eleanor Smith, Tim Farron, Derek Thomas, Wera Hobhouse, John McNally, David Lammy, Edward Davey, Rosie Duffield, Chris Evans and Preet Kaur Gill.
The Swansea West MP had put forward proposals for an ‘Air Quality (Diesel Emissions in Urban Centres) Bill’ during the last Parliament, which received cross-party support, but was withdrawn after its second reading.
This proposed a number of measures, including emissions testing to reflect on-road driving conditions, powers for local authorities to establish low diesel emissions zones and pedestrian-only areas.
Unveiling his new bill today ahead of the Autumn Budget Statement, Mr Davies said: “I am pleased that 31 years after Tony Benn presented his Bill on Budget Day, I have the support of his son Hilary Benn for my Clean Air Bill today.
“The timing of the Bill will underline the critical importance of tackling premature deaths from air pollution in Britain, and I hope that as the Budget is billed as ‘the most boring ever’, it will help my Bill get a clean airing.
“40,000 people die prematurely from diesel pollution each year in the UK, according to the Royal College of Physicians, at a cost of £20 billion a year. It’s time for the Government to take decisive action. The big fear is that the government will try to escape through the Brexit door, to avoid having to fulfil EU air quality standards, which have seen them in the dock of the High Court on four occasions, guilty as charged.
“My Bill has cross-party from over twenty MPs including the Lib Dem’s Tim Farron, SNP’s John McNally, and Conservative Derek Thomas. It comes ahead of a joint select committee inquiry on air pollution, and sets a blueprint for the UK’s new air quality strategy.â€?
Mr Davies is among the speakers at tomorrow’s National Air Quality Conference in London, where he will discuss air quality policy and legislation.