A Bill which seeks to establish Clean Air as a legal human right has been read for the first time in the House of Lords.
Introduced by the Green Party peer Baroness Jenny Jones, and read yesterday (5 July), the draft legislation sets out a series of commitments for government to tackle air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story). This includes enshrining a ‘right to clean air’ within law.
It is intended to complement similar proposals drawn up by the Labour MP Geraint Davies, who is attempting to steer his own Clean Air Bill through the House of Commons.
The full text of the Bill reads: “A Bill to establish the right to breathe clean air; to require the Secretary of State to achieve and maintain clean air in England and Wales; to involve Public Health England in setting and reviewing pollutants and their limits; to enhance the powers, duties and functions of the Environment Agency, the Committee on Climate Change, local authorities (including port authorities), the Civil Aviation Authority, Highways England, Historic England and Natural England in relation to air pollution; to establish a Citizens’ Commission for Clean Air with powers to institute or intervene in legal proceedings; to require the Secretary of State and the relevant national authorities to apply environmental principles in carrying out their duties under this Act and the clean air enactments; and for connected purposes.â€?
In order for the draft legislation to be passed into law it would require support from both the Lords and the House of Commons, passing through varying stages of scrutiny along the way.
Commenting on the draft legislation earlier this year, Baroness Jones said: “I’m very excited by the idea of the Clean Air Bill making the right to healthy air a human right. We should all enjoy clean air even when we are working in a busy city, or living under an airport flight path. I hope that people will add their ideas to this Bill and support my attempt to push the Government into action.
“There are big debates coming up this year as we need to replace the European environmental safeguards with tough UK laws and enforcement. I think this Bill contains some key proposals which could make us world leader for environmental regulation.â€?
Clean Air in London, the air quality campaign group led by Simon Birkett has collaborated with Baroness Jones to draft the Bill.
Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill – Full Text