Monday, 2 March 2020

Campaign reply - Help clean up the air in St Austell and Newquay

Thank you to those constituents for sending me a copy of the campaign email from the British Heart Foundation.

Breathing clean air is of fundamental importance to us all and particularly so for those who have existing health conditions that are aggravated by poor air quality.

The government has made announcements on how they intend the UK to lead the world in seeing our environment protected and cleaned up – and not just air pollution. For instance, some time ago, it announced the banning of the sale of conventionally powered cars by 2040. Electric cars with zero emission at point of use will rapidly become the norm. There are 19 or so new models being launched this year in the UK and so I am confident that we will see the demise of polluting cars far sooner than 2040. This alone will have an enormous impact on air quality where transport makes up roughly one third of air pollution.
In the Conservative Party manifesto for the last election there was a good deal about the topic you raise, and I copy it here for your ease of reference:

Stewards of our environment Our Environment Bill will guarantee that we will protect and restore our natural environment after leaving the EU. Because conservation has always been at the very heart of Conservatism.
} We will set up a new independent Office For Environmental Protection and introduce our own legal targets, including for air quality. } We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund. Building on our support for creating a Great Northumberland Forest, we will reach an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland. } We welcome the Glover Review and will create new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as making our most loved landscapes greener, happier, healthier and open to all. We will make the coast to coast path across the most beautiful areas of the North a National Trail. } We will continue to lead the world in tackling plastics pollution, both in the UK and internationally, and will introduce a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging. We will introduce extended producer responsibility, so that producers pay the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce and boost domestic recycling. We will ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries, consulting with industry, NGOs and local councils on the date by which this should be achieved. } We will crack down on the waste and carelessness that destroys our natural environment and kills marine life. We will increase penalties for fly-tipping, make those on community sentences clean up their parks and streets, and introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass.

Our first Budget will prioritise the environment: investing in R&D; decarbonisation schemes; new flood defences, which will receive £4 billion in new funding over the coming years; electric vehicle infrastructure including a national plug-in network and gigafactory; and clean energy. In the next decade, we will work with the market to deliver two million new high-quality jobs in clean growth. We have ambitious targets:
} Our world-leading offshore wind industry will reach 40GW by 2030, and we will enable new floating wind farms. } We will invest £800 million to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s. } We will invest £500 million to help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques. } We will support gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy, including fusion, as important parts of the energy system, alongside increasing our commitment to renewables. } We placed a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect. Having listened to local communities, we have ruled out changes to the planning system. We will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely. } We will help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals. } We will support clean transport to ensure clean air, as well as setting strict new laws on air quality. We will consult on the earliest date by which we can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars.

Once we leave the EU, we will be able to set our own rules and regulations and not be bound by EU regulation which currently falls short of WHO rules. I welcome this as a further excellent reason why we need to leave the EU.

The government has also acted to stop the most polluting forms of home heating fuels which are highly toxic contributors to air quality.