The Local Government Association has backed a report by MPs calling for tougher action from government to address air pollution in towns and cities.
Commenting on the report issued yesterday by MPs on the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport Committees (see airqualitynews.com story), LGA’s environment spokesman, Councillor Martin Tett, noted that local authorities are at the forefront of efforts to address air pollution in towns and cities.
And, he urged government to ensure that they continue to have ‘flexibility’ to deliver local measures to improve air quality ‘underpinned by sufficient funding and robust national action’.
The report followed an unprecedented joint inquiry by the four committees, and called on government “place the protection of public health and the environment, rather than technical compliance or political convenienceâ€? at the centre of policies on air quality.
Recommendations included introducing a ‘polluter pays’ principle to ensure car makers foot a share of the bill for anti-pollution measures, as well as moving the deadline for ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars from 2040.
Commenting on the report Cllr Tett said: “Councils are working with the government to develop local plans to tackle air pollution. The Committee is right to recognise the unique position of individual councils to understand the causes of air quality issues in their area, which is why they need the flexibility to deliver their own plans to improve air quality in their community. This is particularly important with regard to clean air zones as well as expanded road and traffic measures.
“These local plans, developed with communities, will include a range of measures to deliver cleaner air and it’s essential they are approved swiftly by the Government, and fully funded and resourced. If the Government’s air quality plans are to be successful, they not only need to be underpinned by this local flexibility and sufficient funding but also accompanied by robust national action.
He added that the LGA would support a national campaign to raise awareness of air pollution issues, as well as calling for more support for measures to reduce congestion.
“Councils agree with the Committee that the 2040 target set by the Government for the end of the sale of conventionally-fuelled vehicles is too far away to tackle a public health problem that is shortening lives now,â€? he said. “It cannot overlook the immediate measures that could have drastic improvements on public health in areas where air quality problems are at their most severe.
“National investment in roads is helpful, but with the number of cars on our roads increasing, an overarching strategy is needed to tackle rising levels of congestion. This needs to include councils outside of London also being given powers to enforce moving traffic violations to tackle congestion hotspots and improve air quality. We also continue to call on government to introduce national scrappage incentives which councils believe would encourage a shift away from diesel cars towards low emission vehicles.â€?
Joint Committee Report – Improving Air Quality