Stephen joins cross-party call to end diesel deaths

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, has joined over 110 MPs and Lords from all parties who have signed a joint letter calling on Michael Gove, the DEFRA Secretary, to call an end to diesel deaths.

A letter has been sent asking for the Secretary of State to implement proposals from Geraint Davies MP’s Clean Air Bill in the forthcoming Air Quality Strategy, to reduce the 40,000 premature deaths caused each year in the UK by diesel pollution.

Following a High Court ruling, the Government is required to publish its new Clean Air Strategy by 31 July, after the UK was found to be breaking EU law with unsafe levels of air pollution.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

Diesel pollution is a serious concern for many here in Portsmouth.  The very least we owe our children is that they have clean air to breathe. Diesel drivers who bought their cars in good faith should not be punished but we all want a plan to deliver a cleaner future for our communities.

The government’s strategy to improve air quality is due to be published imminently and all signs are that it will fall below the standard required by law, leaving the Conservatives in breach of April’s court order.

This is deeply troubling and it is high time that the government took bold action to end diesel deaths. That’s why I’m calling for the provisions from the Clean Air Bill to be included in the government’s plans.

The letter, signed by over 80 Parliamentarians, was coordinated by the author of the Clean Air Bill, Labour MP Geraint Davies, who is Rapporteur for Air Quality on the Council of Europe and sits on the Environmental Audit Committee. It calls for provisions made in the Bill to be included in the Government’s strategy, and reads:

“Dear Michael,

Ahead of the imminent deadline for the Government’s Air Quality Strategy, due by 31st July, we are writing to ask that the following provisions from the Clean Air Bill (attached) are included in the strategy:

  • Restrictions on access for the most polluting vehicles in urban areas
  • Targeted diesel scrappage schemes
  • New powers for local authorities and the Environment Agency to enforce clean air zones and combat “idling”.
  • Incentives for people to switch to cleaner alternatives in all modes of transport
  • Reliable, real-time emissions testing
  • Rapid development of infrastructure of electric car charging points (at car parks in preference to petrol stations), the main constraint on increasing the number of electric cars on the road
  • Action on air quality at ports and airports
  • An air quality fiscal strategy

Please support the Bill and include these provisions in the Government’s imminent Air Quality Strategy.  

As you know, 40,000 people die prematurely at a cost of £20 billion each year from diesel air pollution, according to the Royal College of Physicians, who support the Clean Air Bill. Four select committees – Health, Transport, DEFRA and Environmental Audit – had planned joint hearings on Air Quality before the deadline but the general election has prevented that.

Many thanks for your cooperation on this matter which is of such importance to all our constituencies”.

Geraint Davies MP said:

“Thanks to the cross-party support for my Clean Air Bill, I have been able to unite growing pressure on the new DEFRA Secretary, Michael Gove.”