MPs on four Parliamentary committees have published a joint report on improving air quality calling on the Government to impose tougher restrictions and sooner.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health and Social Care, and Transport Committees launched their joint inquiry amid concerns over the inadequacy of the Government’s plan to improve air quality in the UK.
It wants the Government to introduce a new Clean Air Act, a clean air fund financed by the transport industry, a national air quality support programme for councils, and to require manufacturers to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars earlier than the current 2040 target.
Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “Transport is the key to improving air quality, but it requires real political leadership and co-ordinated action from the Government and local authorities.
“The solution isn’t just about reducing the pollution each vehicle produces, we also need policies that will reduce our reliance on cars. This requires more urgency, imagination and innovation than is being demonstrated by the Government, local councils or transport service providers.”
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says an outright ban risks undermining the current market for new cars and the automotive sector which supports more than 800,000 jobs across the UK.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “The industry instead wants a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars. We could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust.”
Despite a series of court cases, the report says the Government has still not produced a plan that adequately addresses the scale of the challenge. Nor has it demonstrated the national leadership needed to bring about a step change in how the problem of air quality is tackled.
The Government’s approach, it says, is more concerned with box-ticking and demonstrating compliance than taking bold, affirmative action.
Neil Parish, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “We are concerned that the Government is treating air quality as a box-ticking exercise. Real change will require bold, meaningful action.
“We are calling on Government to develop a properly resourced support scheme available to all councils struggling with air quality, and to require manufacturers of polluting vehicles to pay their fair share by contributing to an industry-financed clean air fund.”
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), whose members own and operate nearly five million cars, vans and trucks in the UK, has welcomed the publication of todays Joint Select Committee report into Air Quality.
The Government says it will publish its plan later in the year. To read the full report click here.