‘Clean Air in London’ has worked closely with Baroness Jenny Jones (Green) and others to embed a ‘human right to clean air’ in a draft new Clean Air Bill 2018 that could be approved by Parliament now. Read it here:
- Clean air is a human right.
- The inclusion of air quality and greenhouse gases, outside and inside. So-called ‘One atmosphere’.
- The opportunity for devolved administrations to be involved or not
- Duties/responsibilities and powers/authority passed down from the Secretary of State (SoS) to the Environment Agency (EA), local authorities and others
- EA and Climate Change Committee to undertake reviews and advise on new standards to protect health and the environment.
- Powers in a long list of ‘clean air enactments’ must be used.
- Government required to pass resources to the EA, local authorities and others to fulfil their duties.
- Establishment of the Citizens’ Commission for Clean Air with enforcement powers. Penalties (eg fines) for companies and polluters and court orders for the SoS and government entities etc.
- Updating the current Clean Air Act e.g. to make it easier to stop illegal wood burning in Smoke Control Areas.
- Confirms the environmental provisions of prevention, precaution, “polluter pays” and sustainable development
In a sense, the CAL proposal is ‘top down’ (clean air as a human right with requirements, principles and mechanisms defined and passed down) and Geraint Davies’ excellent draft Clean Air Bill is ‘bottom up’ e.g. clear actions on specific sources of pollution and specific solutions. The approaches are complementary, both address important issues, and lend themselves to being merged (or enacted separately).
Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“I’m very excited by the idea of the Clean Air Bill making the right to healthy air a human right. We should all enjoy clean air even when we are working in a busy city, or living under an airport flight path. I hope that people will add their ideas to this Bill and support my attempt to push the Government into action. There are big debates coming up this year as we need to replace the European environmental safeguards with tough UK laws and enforcement. I think this Bill contains some key proposals which could make us world leader for environmental regulation.”
Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:
“The City of London Corporation created the first Clean Air Act in 1954. It was followed by the first national Clean Air Act on 5 July 1956. These pieces of legislation made the UK a world leader in environmental action for more than 15 years.
“Much has changed since the 1950s. Instead of being worried about about respiratory effects for the elderly from short-term exposure to visible coal and wood burning during the Great Smog of December 1952, scientists are warning now that everyone is affected by short and long-term exposure to air pollution to some extent with these exposures causing a wide range of health effects. Climate change is also a humanity-threatening prospect.
“Many people are calling therefore for a new Clean Air Act that will update legislation for modern fuels and technologies and address the need to reduce harmful air emissions to zero to protect human health and the environment. In Parliament, Geraint Davies MP (Labour) has championed the idea of a new Clean Air Bill in Private Members bills on a number of occasions. He has also been highly successful in building cross-party political support for it.
“Clean Air in London (CAL) is pleased therefore to have worked with Baroness Jenny Jones (Green) and others to produce a complementary draft Clean Air Bill that would establish ‘clean air’ as a fundamental human right in law and propose wide ranging principles and detailed legislative provisions. This draft Clean Air Bill builds on Geraint Davies’ excellent work, is complementary to it and could be implemented in parallel or merged with it to produce new legislation now.
“CAL is also pleased to have been advised by Kate Harrison, of Harrison Grant, on the draft Bill. However, all content, errors or omissions are entirely the responsibility of Clean Air in London.
“It is a daunting task to try to address air quality (indoors and outside), climate change, health and the environment in the first draft of a Bill. So Baroness Jones is seeking comments on this draft Clean Air Bill 2018 with a view to presenting it, or something similar, as a Private Members Bill in early 2018. Please therefore email comments on the draft Clean Air Bill 2018 or support to Baroness Jones by 28 February 2018*. CAL hopes this draft Clean Air Bill 2018 will be supported by devolved administrations, the Mayor of London, the City of London Corporation and all political parties and improved by them.
“Most important, we need continuity and tightening of health, legal and environmental protections.”
*Please email comments on the draft Clean Air Bill 2018 or support to: [email protected]
1. Clean Air in London’s submission to Joint Select Committee inquiry into ‘Improving air quality’.
2. Geraint Davies’ Clean Air Bill
3. Joint inquiry on ‘Improving air quality’ and Mayor of London’s evidence
Mayor of London’s evidence to EFRACOM on 23 November 2017 (see Question 56)
2. Healthy Air Campaign call for a new Clean Air Act
3. Defra’s work on a new Clean Air Act since 2011
4. Previous CAL articles
Red Tape Challenge (21 September 2011)
What is the Clean Air Act? (2 February 2012)
Response to Call for evidence – Review of Clean Air Act (29 October 2013)
5. Manifesto commitments on clear air 2017
Conservatives 2017 (page 40)
Green Party 2017 (page 3)
Labour Party 2017 (page 93)
Liberal Democrats 2017
Scottish National Party 2017
6. Pollution levels e.g. nitrogen dioxide
7. Pollution sources e.g. wood burning and tube dust
8. Pollution health