Keith Taylor MEP: European Commission ‘final warning’ reveals the need for a new UK Clean Air Act

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has slammed the Government’s ‘repeated failures’ on air pollution as the European Commission issues a ‘final warning‘ to the UK over air quality breaches.

The European Commission has sent a “final warning” to the UK for failing to address repeated breaches of legal air pollution limits in 16 areas including London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow.

The notice is being served just 24 hours after a new poll revealed 58% of Britons believe air pollution levels across the UK are damaging to their health while 65% support ClientEarth’s campaign for a new Clean Air Act.

Keith, a vocal air quality campaigner and a member of the European Parliament’s Environment committee, said:

“The government has been exposed, yet again, as failing in its duty to take even the most basic action to combat an air pollution crisis that needlessly claims the lives of more than 50,000 people in Britain every year. It’s no surprise that two-thirds of the public want the Prime Minister to do more to combat the toxic air they are forced to breathe.”

“The failure highlighted by the European Commission is as much moral as it is legal; Ministers have displayed an extremely concerning attitude of indifference towards their duty to safeguard the health of British citizens.”

“That the European Commission is having to hold to account this government for a public health crisis that costs the British public more than £20bn a year is a shameful indictment of the Conservatives’ irresponsible and deadly apathy.”

“Theresa May’s administration is failing to do the bare minimum, as required by EU laws the UK itself helped to set, to improve the quality of the air we all breathe. The bare minimum. Where embraced and enforced, EU air pollution limits are helping to prevent thousands of deaths every year and saving billions of pounds in direct health costs. This government readily acknowledges that it is EU law that has been the driver of positive air quality action in the UK. But the Prime Minister’s plans for an extreme Brexit puts those vital EU safeguards at risk.”

“The government must finally face up to its moral and legal responsibility for tackling Britain’s air quality crisis. Ministers must now be forced to make a firm commitment to abiding by and fully implementing EU air quality laws. Theresa May must also make a new Clean Air Act a means to maintain and strengthen these vital protections as Britain prepares to leave the EU.”

Keith is a co-signatory of a motion which will be presented at the Greens’ Spring Conference in Liverpool which calls on the Party to formally back ClientEarth’s Clean Air Act proposal.