I will do all I can to promote healthy lungs within Burnley. Improving our air quality is a something that I am committed to delivering and is why I welcome measures introduced to tackle air pollution.
During the election I promised to using the opportunities presented by leaving the EU to deliver a ‘green Brexit’. I remain committed to this, not only seeking to maintain our environmental standards but enhancing them. With that in mind I was pleased to see the Environment Bill include a requirement that consideration of the environment be at the heart of all policy making. This, and future, governments will be held to account if they fail to uphold their environmental duties.
These duties include long-term and legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency. The Office for Environmental Protection will be a new, world-leading independent regulator, able to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action when necessary. This will ensure we succeed in leaving the environment in a better condition than we found it. I am passionate that we develop a global gold standard for management of the environment.
I also support the Government’s plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans (including hybrids) by 2035 and am in favour of bringing this date further forward if a faster transition to clean transport is feasible. I know this is something the Government is currently looking into and I look forward to seeing the output of that.
You may be aware of the dedicated funding packages set up to help support local authorities achieve better air quality. This includes a £255 million Implementation Fund to support local authorities with a range of measures such as installing electric charge point hubs in car parks, which we are already seeing in Burnley; bus priority measures; building cycle routes; and incentivising ultra-low emission taxis through licensing schemes and leasing electric vehicles.
At a local level, the most immediate challenge on air quality is nitrogen dioxide concentrations around roads. I welcome that Ministers have published a UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, setting out how compliance with existing legal targets can be achieved in the shortest possible time. The plan is supported by a £3.5 billion investment into air quality and cleaner transport, and outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take robust action in the shortest time possible.