On 22 February 2018, I asked Thérèse Coffey – the minister in charge of air quality – to take real action to ensure we are all breathing cleaner air. One day prior a court ruled for a third time that the government’s current policy on air pollution is ‘unlawful’ and has demanded changes.
Bristol City Council has been given government funding to work towards establishing a clean air zone in the city. But this ruling shows that the government need to go much further in their plans to tackle air pollution, and stop passing the buck to local authorities.
One thing that would help reduce pollution for those who regularly travel through Bristol city centre (for example pupils who attend St Michael on the Mount primary school), would be for the government to introduce a scrappage scheme for diesel vehicles – and especially for larger vehicles like buses and taxis.
I put this proposal to the minister as she took questions from MPs about the government’s defeat in the courts. I will keep urging the government to do more to ensure we are all breathing cleaner air, and to stop the premature deaths that occur every year due to lung complications arising from breathing polluted air.
Although I am grateful to the Minister for the funding she has given to cash-strapped authorities such as Bristol for consultations on clean-air zones, I would like her to move a little further and think of the children who are at school in one of the worst-polluted areas in the centre of Bristol, St Michael on the Mount Without. Will she urgently consider a scrappage scheme for cars and other vehicles, such as taxis and buses?
Thérèse Coffey (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
I have discussed air quality with the hon. Lady before. She will be aware that I have had direct discussions with Bristol City Council. She will also be aware of the funding that has already gone in to help the uptake of electric vehicles and the buses that are being provided from transport funds. Bristol is making good progress. It is one of the councils that we mandated last year to come forward with action; I believe that it is on track, mainly, with its process and I look forward to receiving its final considerations later this year.
You can watch the exchange here: