MP proposes Clean Air Act to tackle toxic air

The Conservative MP Chris Philp has proposed a new Clean Air Act to improve air quality in the UK.

The wide-ranging legislation looks at reducing air pollution in the UK by expanding the use of Clean Air Zones and banning vehicle idling outside schools.

The act, backed by Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and fellow Tory MPs, would also restrict the sale of diesel vehicles and require local authorities to plant trees and promote electric buses and taxis.

The Croydon South MP proposed the Act in the House of Commons last night (September 3) under the Ten Minute Rule motion process, saying such an Act is ‘of vital importance to our nation’s health’.

‘Air pollution cuts short an estimated 40,000 lives a year in the UK, and that the young, the old and those with medical conditions are most at risk,’ Philp said as he introduced his Private Members’ Bill.

‘Evidence to a joint Select Committee in 2018 said that air pollution was the second-largest cause of avoidable death after smoking.’

The Palace of Westminster, London.

Philp started by praising the government’s Clean Air Strategy published earlier this year, which aims to tackle air pollution across the UK.

However, Philp said that his Clean Air Act would ‘go much further’ to tackle air pollution than the measures included in the strategy.

Measures Philp suggested in his speech included planting more trees in urban areas to absorb air pollution, electrifying all buses and taxis, and introducing fines to deter drivers from idling with their car engines running outside schools.

The MP also suggested a crackdown on the sale of diesel cars, with the real-world emissions of diesel cars often much higher than those made in laboratory conditions.

‘There is a great deal more that a Clean Air Act could do, and it is of vital importance to our nation’s health that we have such an Act,’ Philp concluded.

The British Lung Foundation welcomed Philp’s Clean Air Bill, saying the government ‘mustn’t lose focus’ on air pollution despite the turmoil around Brexit negotiations.

Harriet Edwards, air quality policy manager at the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘Air pollution is an urgent threat to all of our health, so we need urgent action right now, not more vague policies and delays.’

Philp’s proposal to expand the use of low emission zones comes days after city leaders across England asked the government for funding to set up a ‘national network’ of 30 Clean Air Zones.

Although Philp’s bill passed its first reading, the Act is unlikely to have time to make its way into law during this parliamentary session due to the forthcoming prorogation of parliament.

However, Philp said he hoped that a Clean Air Act would be included in a future Queen’s Speech.

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