Anneliese Dodds MEP

The South East's Voice in Europe

Action to tackle air pollution

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Anneliese has called on the government to tackle air pollution after the European Court of Justice ruled that the UK has to establish an action plan.

The Court's ruling proved what the Labour party has been saying for a long time: that the coalition government's approach to our air quality is completely unacceptable. Poor air quality is the biggest public health risk after smoking, with 29,000 people dying prematurely in the UK every year because of air pollution - more than 4,000 of them in the South East.

In 2010, the EU ruled that countries had to reduce their levels of air pollution in key 'zones' below a certain level for the safety of their citizens. In the UK, this limit was exceeded in 40 out of 43 zones. Rather than take concrete action to address this issue, the Coalition Government instead scrapped its Local Air Quality Management strategy in December 2013, and has failed to produce a new plan.

Today's ruling from the ECJ makes clear that the coalition government will have to produce a plan to deal with air pollution levels that cause, among other problems, stunted growth for unborn children and up to a third of all new childhood asthma cases.

The Labour party has committed to delivering a national framework for Low Emissions Zones that would enable local authorities to encourage cleaner, greener, less polluting vehicles to begin to tackle this problem.

Anneliese spent much of the last year travelling around her constituency highlighting the problem of poor air quality, and campaigned against the Coalition government's proposals to remove the obligations on local government to run air quality monitoring stations.

In response to the ruling today, Anneliese said: "Nothing is more vital to all of us than the air we breathe. We all have the right to breathe clean, clear air and be confident that we are not inhaling a toxic mix of pollution that risks making us and our children ill.

"The Conservative-led coalition government has failed in the most basic task of protecting the public's health, and has buried its head in the sand rather than taking the kind of meaningful action that the Labour party is proposing. Today's ruling should be a wake-up call: stop ignoring the thousands of premature deaths that are caused every year by air pollution, and do something to prevent them."

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