From the Greener Jobs Alliance
Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Union Council (BWTUC) slammed the Government newly published plans to improve air quality as being totally ineffective and that they will utterly fail to remove dangerous pollutants from the air in Wandsworth.
The Government were forced to produce an Air Quality plan for consultation by the courts this month. They had tried to use the election as a reason to delay publication but this was rejected by the Court.
Graham Petersen, spokesperson for BWTUC, said,
If this document represents their vision of how the public will be protected from air pollution it is no surprise they wanted to keep it under wraps.
If this is how you respond to the Number 0ne public health hazard then the Conservative Party have lost all credibility on this important issue. Instead of providing clear leadership from central government, control measures have largely been delegated to local authorities. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t the same government that have stripped local government finances to the bone. A public health emergency that claims the lives of around 40,000 people every year requires a clear national direction.People in Wandsworth are in the front-line of toxic air. We have the most polluted street in Europe – Putney High St. Levels in some parts of the borough show over 2 twice the legal limit of 40ug/m³ for nitrogen dioxide. In April, the Wandsworth Guardian quoted a report that showed 29 schools in the borough located in areas exceeding the safe legal limit. Wandsworth Council’s own Air Quality Action Plan identified the importance of a campaign ‘to national government towards a non-diesel economy’ as a priority action. If they are serious about this then the Council should join us in condemning these inadequate proposals.
BWTUC believes that new statutory duties are required under a Clean Air Act that provides a national plan covering low emission zones, clean energy public transport provision, and duties on manufacturers and employers.
Currently businesses pay a fraction of what it costs the NHS to treat victims of toxic air. Yet it is employers that are the root cause of diesel emissions from their transport fleet as well as the individual work journeys to and from work made by their staff.
That is why BWTUC believe that air quality is a workplace issue. It is also why we provide funding for awareness raising initiatives like the Greener Jobs Alliance training modules on Air Quality which will be launched at the end of the month.
It is clearly now a political issue in this election. The Government have shown they have no effective strategy. This is not strong leadership, it is passing the buck, and relying on a voluntary approach that will not deliver on the scale required.