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UK Government's 'feeble' air quality plan set to cost thousands of lives, says new report

  • Government proposals could lead to more than 700 lives in Bristol and more than 50,000 lives in London being cut unnecessarily short

  • Molly Scott Cato: ‘Conservatives’ consistent failure to take any action over this crisis is truly shameful’

  • Draft Air Quality plan fails to commit to diesel scrappage scheme or new Clean Air Zones

  • Green MEPs’ report focuses on impacts on Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Oxford

Research by Green Party MEPs [1], Keith Taylor, Molly Scott Cato, and Jean Lambert, has highlighted the local impacts of the Government's 'feeble' response to Britain's air quality crisis.

The new report ‘Air pollution: How the Government’s Air Quality Plan will Impact on Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Oxford’ will be launched by Molly Scott Cato MEP, Keith Taylor MEP and Bristol Councillor Jerome Thomas at a public event at the Bearpit roundabout in Bristol on Friday [2].

The report analyses the Government's draft air quality plan and reveals the 'dreadful' impact its many shortcomings will have on residents in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Oxford alike - cities from each of the regions represented by the Green MEPs.

As well at detailing the flaws in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) inadequate proposals the report calls for the nationwide adoption of the Green Party’s air quality manifesto pledges, including the introduction of a new Clean Air Act, expansion of the mandatory clean air zone network and the roll-out of a diesel scrappage scheme. The plan calls for the car companies who cheated emissions to foot the bill for action on air pollution.

The report also calls on the Government and Local Authorities to take specific measures to mitigate the risks in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Oxford.

The key findings of the report, include:

  • In Bristol, air pollution is worst in Central, Lawrence Hill, and Ashley while and continues to rise in many areas across the city, including at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Children’s Department

  • The Government’s plan will see an estimated 757 deaths in Bristol linked to NO2 air pollution by 2021

  • Putney High Street and Oxford Street in London breached the hourly legal limit for air pollution around 1,400 times in just one year

  • The Government’s plan will condemn an estimated 53,272 deaths in London linked to NO2 air pollution by 2030

  • Air pollution is an inequality issue in Oxford and those suffering the worst effects contribute least to the problem. Two-thirds of the areas exceeding EU legal limits on air pollution are among the top 5% most deprived areas in England - Carfax and Holywell. More than 60% of households in Carfax don’t have access to a car, almost half of households in Holywell don’t have access to a car

  • Brighton and Hove is excluded from the Government’s air quality plan despite the three most polluted areas in the city registering air pollution levels at 230%, 189%, and 153% of EU legal limits

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West and the Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, said:

“Bristol residents are victims of both a Labour government that pushed the benefits of diesel cars before the effects of diesel emissions were well understood and a Conservative government that well understands the effects but continues to display a scandalous and deadly indifference to the issue.”

“In Bristol, the toxic fumes spewed out by road vehicles are expected to claim the lives of more than 700 people before 2021. It is entirely unacceptable. And the Conservatives’ consistent failure to take any action over this crisis is truly despicable. These deaths are preventable. They have produced a feeble plan so lacking in detail and so non-committal that it will do nothing at all to help alleviate the air pollution crisis in Bristol.”

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of both the European Parliament’s Public Health and Transport Committees, said:

“It’s a scandal that the Government is still displaying such a shocking disregard for the UK’s legal and moral obligation to take action on air pollution; it is a shameful indictment of the Tories’ irresponsible and deadly apathy. Every week Ministers fail to act, another 770 lives are needlessly lost across the UK.

“As Greens, we support an air pollution plan that would truly tackle this emergency - and force companies to pay their way for the damage they done to people’s health. We urgently need bold action and this report sets out what we can and should be doing now.”


[1]Report will be published online at 00.01 Friday 26 May:
[2] When: Friday, 26 May

Where: Bearpit roundabout, Bristol, BS1 3LY

What/Who: 12:30 arrival, speeches start at 13:00

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