Lib Dems and Greens set out air pollution policies

Lib Dems promise £100m low emission car prize fund, while Green Party pledges spending boost for walking and cycling

The Green Party will pledge to spend £30 per head in the UK on measures to encourage walking and cycling and to help cut air pollution in its General Election manifesto set to be launched next week.

According to the Greens, the current level of spending on walking and cycling measures in the UK is estimated to be around £2 per head, but the Party said it would increase this spending as well as cutting public transport fares and cancelling the current government’s plans to build new roads.

According to the Defra UK Air website landing page — the full site is still offline following a cyber attack — today (April 10) there are currently five regions in England suffering from high levels of particulate matter pollution: Eastern; South East; Greater London; West Midlands; and Yorkshire & Humberside.

And, responding to current high air pollution levels across the south of England today (April 10), the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also called on the government to consider more emergency measures to tackle the problem, such as the free public transport days used in Paris.

Ms Bennet, who is campaigning in Holborn and St Pancras in London today ahead of the election on May 7, said: “The Green Party would invest in affordable, convenient networks of public transport and safe walking and cycling routes to reduce the need to travel by car. We’d also cut public transport fares — paid for by cancelling the government’s plans for building new roads.”

She added: “It’s time that the UK government looked closely at emergency measures used in other countries like the free public transport days in Paris. The time has come for the government to recognise the fundamental link between our environment and our quality of life, and to start taking this health crisis seriously. This would also help reduce the pressure on our NHS.”

Ms Bennett had also suggested that tackling air pollution would help to ease the health burden on the NHS during the party leaders’ television debate on ITV last week (April 2).

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have also voiced support for greener travel choices around walking, cycling and public transport, as well as promising a “full network of charging points for electric cars”.

And, with the General Election campaign gathering pace, the Lib Dems also this week (April 8) announced a manifesto pledge to offer a £100 million prize fund to reward vehicle manufacturers which manage to produce ultra low emission vehicles that break into the UK’s top five selling cars list in the course of a year.

In the long term, the party aims to have all cars on UK roads low emission from 2040 onwards.

Visiting a car wheel manufacturer in Chippenham, leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the taxpayer-funded prize fund would “spark a low emission car revolution in Britain” and “help to tackle dangerous air pollution”.

At EU level, Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder — who is currently working on the revision of the EU National Emissions Ceiling Directive — also today responded to high air pollution levels across the UK today.

She said: “Yet again we are seeing extremely high levels of pollution in the UK, caused in part by smog blowing in from the continent. We cannot ignore this problem any longer. We urgently need strict EU limits that will force all governments to improve our shared air quality.

“Unless action is taken across Europe, the quality of the air we breathe will continue to be at the mercy of whichever way the wind is blowing.”


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