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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Lib Dems call for ban on new diesel cars by 2025

October 14, 2018 11:10 PM

As Government announces 'Green Great Britain Week', Lib Dems say policies don't go far enough
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Transport, Baroness Randerson, unveils suite of policies in report entitled 'Cleaning up the air we breathe'

Kent Liberal Democrats are calling for a ban on the sale of all new diesel cars and vans by 2025 as part of a range of measures designed to reduce air pollution and safeguard public health. Jenny Randerson

Today (Monday, October 15) as the Government launches 'Green Great Britain Week', designed to highlight sustainable growth, the Lib Dems say Conservatives have not done nearly enough to tackle air pollution and protect people's health. Just last week the Tories announced that the Department for Transport is planning to scrap grants for new plug-in hybrids and slash discounts on others from next month.

Now the Liberal Democrats have published a report entitled: 'Cleaning up the Air We Breathe - a Liberal Democrat Action Plan', that spells out the urgent policy measures that must be put in place to avoid serious public health problems.

The health impact of air pollution goes well beyond lung conditions such as asthma and lung cancer. Emissions also contribute to diabetes, dementia, heart disease, low birth weight, premature births and the impaired lung development of children.

Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Emissions widen inequality because the poorest people are more likely to live and study near highly polluted roads.

These effects have a huge financial impact on the NHS and hence on the taxpayer. Nationally, the cost to the NHS is estimated at £20 billion a year. It is not a case of if we can afford to tackle this problem - we cannot afford not to tackle it.

A report published by KCC estimates that air pollution kills more than 1,000 people a year in Kent, and suggests that nationwide air pollution is responsible for more deaths than passive smoking, road accidents or obesity.

Yet sites with dangerous levels of air pollution have increased by 25 per cent in the county in just one year according to recent figures released by Kent County Council, and poor air quality blights many built up areas around the UK.

The latest figures show there were 39 sites declared in Kent County in 2016, eight more than the 31 declared in 2015, an increase of 25 per cent. These 39 sites represent areas where air pollution levels breach legal safety levels, putting the public's health at risk.

The Liberal Democrats' proposals include:

1. An Act of parliament that enshrines the right to unpolluted air in law
2. There is an urgent need for a widespread public health campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with emissions and to encourage preventive behaviour
3. More frequent air pollution testing
4. A ban on the sale of new diesel cars and small vans by 2025, and of petrol cars and small vans by 2030
5. Introduce a diesel scrappage scheme, carefully targeted at the most polluting vehicles and taking account of the needs of poorer car owners
6. Reform Vehicle Excise Duty so that it is graduated to reflect levels of both NO2 and CO2 emissions
7. Create Ultra Low Emission Zones and Clean Air Zones in at least 10 more towns and cities
8. Introduce a ban on idling in vehicles, near schools, hospitals, parks and care homes, with fines for those who ignore the ban
9. All electric and hybrid vehicles manufactured and sold in the EU must use a universal plug for charging
10. Invest significantly in schemes to speed up the strategic roll-out of rapid charging points
11. Legislation to ensure prices for electric charging are always kept below those for equivalent refuelling with diesel or petrol
12. Fund research into alternative technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, as well as into battery technology
13. All diesel buses operating in urban areas should be phased out within five years, either retrofitted or replaced with vehicles operating on ultra-low or zero emission fuels
14. All private hire vehicles licensed to operate in urban areas should be electric, hybrid, or capable of running on other ultra-low emission technology, within five years
15. The Government must provide greater and more ambitious support for all forms of public transport and for active travel initiatives involving walking and cycling

Cllr Rob Bird, Leader of the Kent Liberal Democrat Group on Kent County Council, said: Rob at CH

"Air pollution is not some vague or exaggerated threat. We know it is killing people in Kent, and across the UK, just as surely as car accidents, smoking or obesity.

"Yet at every level of Government, the Conservatives are failing to get to grips with what is fast becoming a major public health issue. These proposals offer a radical alternative to the status quo - action is needed now, and we're providing the plan the Tories seem unable to produce."

Baroness Randerson, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Transport, said:

"Green Great Britain must be more than window dressing. The evidence speaks for itself. The Conservative's lacklustre policies have failed to tackle air pollution, condemning tens of thousands of people to suffer avoidable disease and shortened life expectancy.

"This report lays out exactly what must be done to safeguard public health now, and into the future. This is nothing short of a scandal. If the Conservatives cannot find the solutions, then we will show them the way - people's lives depend on cleaning up the air we breathe."

To read Baroness Jenny Randerson's report in full click here.

Show your support for the Liberal Democrat 15-point Action Plan by clicking here.