Liberal Democrats put clean air at heart of offer for 6 May council polls

Ed Davey has announced plans for a £20bn fund to fight the “invisible enemy” of pollution in England’s communities. The money will be part of the Lib Dems’ flagship £150bn Green Recovery Fund, which will pump £5.5bn into new walking and cycling routes, £4.5bn into light rail and tram projects, £5bn for the expansion of bus routes and £2bn to convert bus fleets to hydrogen fuel.

Davey is due to launch the policy in Watford today.

Reported in The Independent, Davey said:

“Air pollution is an invisible enemy threatening the community spaces we love and the people we care most about,” he said.

“It kills thousands of people every year and affects the quality of life for all of us. At the same time, air pollution is threatening our world, with climate change.

“The Conservatives’ failure to act is shown by the fact that the UK regularly breaks legal limits on air quality in so many towns and cities, and yet Conservative council after Conservative council are running away from taking action to clean the air for local people.”

“Conservative councils and councillors are even voting against local climate emergency plans and blocking new cycling routes.

“Liberal Democrat councils are acting and getting things done. From Lib Dem-run Bath Council introducing a clean air zone in the city centre to the Lib Dem mayor of Watford pioneering new pay-as-you-go bikes, people can see it’s the Liberal Democrats leading on clean air and the climate.”

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8 Comments

  • I’m delighted that Sir Edward has picked this matter up. It’s just a pity the statement couldn’t be made in Lewisham, the cene of a tragedy back in 2013. The BBC reported on the inquest this week :

    “A coroner has called for a change in the law after air pollution led to the death of a nine-year-old girl.

    Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London, died in 2013. An inquest had found air pollution “made a material contribution” to her death. The Coroner Phillip Barlow said there is “no safe level of particulate matter” in the air and called for national pollution limits to be reduced.

    Ella was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate, following the inquest ruling by Mr Barlow last December.

    In a report to prevent future deaths, he said the government should reduce existing legally binding targets for particulate matter pollution to bring them in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines”.

    There are other similar news stories on the BBC :

    “Pollution a factor in girl’s death, inquest finds”
    “Family ‘didn’t know about toxic air’ before death”.
    “Girl with asthma ‘living on knife edge’ before death”.

  • What pollutants is he targetting with what current average levels, what target maximum levels, what benefits, what actions and what costs?

    He should realise that each so called pollutant may have different sources, associated problems and reduction strategies.

    It is unacceptable for politicians to continue to refer to polution and climate change in the pretence that they know what they are talking about while making meaningless promises to the taxpayer in return for future votes or funding.

  • Question : Could Sir Edward Davey please explain how he reconciles his support for the expansion of Southampton Airport with his campaign against climate change.

    (Southern Daily Echo, 22 April).

  • Laurence Cox 25th Apr '21 - 9:16pm

    @David Raw – from the article you referenced

    When asked whether councillors made the right decision, Sir Davey said: “It looks like they have if you look at it from the safety prospective [sic] and look at it taking into account the fact that they have put a cap on the number of people who can use the airport in the future which is a lower cap than was in the previous masterplan. That is just to me that they are reducing the use of the airport while making it safer, that seems to me quite a sensible approach. What they were doing is making sure that now Flybe is not operating the much smaller planes, that the planes that need to come in for the regional economy that they can land safely and that needed the existing runway just to be extended, that is about safety.”

    So fewer flights, fewer passengers and a safer airport, are you really objecting to that?

  • @ Laurence Cox Yes,I read that Mr Cox, but it still leaves a few questions hanging ‘in the air’.

    1. If Southampton Airport was unsafe at previous user levels (the collapsed Flybe was responsible for 95% of flights at their hub in Southampton), why was it allowed to operate ?

    2. Is there any sign that Flybe (or anybody else) is about to be resurrected ?

    3. Given Southampton Airport is owned by a private profit driven Spanish/Australian finance company, AGS Airports Limited, (who also own Aberdeen and Glasgow Airports) why should Eastleigh Council tax payers subsidise them ? Isn’t it the responsibility of AGS to ensure facilities are safe ?

    4. Given you advocated the closure of Glasgow airport (owned by AGS) on LDV some time ago, don’t you think advocating financial support for the Southampton ‘wing’ is a bit contradictory. Or is it just about defending Sir Edward Davey ?

    As with so much about Sir Edward and I’m sorry to say some Lib Dems, it’s all a bit unclear and contradictory – though I do understand him wanting to give public support to the Eastleigh Liberal Democrat Councillors in the build up to local elections.

  • Laurence Cox 26th Apr '21 - 12:58pm

    @David Raw

    You clearly don’t understand what makes an airport safe or unsafe. For example, it would be unsafe to fly a jumbo jet from London City airport, because the runway is not long enough. That doesn’t make London City airport unsafe for all aircraft. In the same way Southampton Airport was not unsafe for the aircraft that FlyBe was using at it, but that doesn’t mean that it would be safe for any aircraft used by another carrier.

    As for Glasgow Airport, we know that the capacity of Edinburgh Airport is already greater than the total usage of the two airports together pre-covid, and flying will need be reduced to meet our carbon dioxide emission commitments because electric-powered aircraft will take decades to become commonplace, so it makes a good deal of sense to follow the French example and stop domestic flights where there is already a good rail alternative. Your argument that Glasgow airport should remain open for the next 50 years or more because the Scottish Government have not solved the problem of congestion on the M8 is just hypocrisy.

  • @David Raw

    I am only viewing this from afar – having had a quick look at the Daily Echo and Eastleigh Borough Council websites.

    On a matter of fact – it seems that the passenger numbers peaked at around 2 million passengers per year (before flybe’s collapse and covid) but the previous planning application capped this at 5 million – it is now capped at 3 million with this planning application.

    You do seem to be conflating quite a lot of issues on safety.

    On financial support – I am not aware that Eastleigh Council financially supporting the airport – they may do, they may not but this seems to be about the planning application and it is a bit like saying that giving planning permission to a bigger shopping centre is subsidising that.

    On climate change. There are always arguments to be made for and against specific changes. And it depends what people are “not doing”. If people are not travelling by (petrol/diesel) car then actually planes over a significantly better miles per gallon. And I assume that the longer runway is for bigger planes which are more fuel efficient per passenger. In addition if you are basically flying the same journey – it helps to start/finish closer to your destination. For example if people around Southampton and central southern England can start their flight at Southampton – it (may) prevent a car journey to a London airport.

    In fact as a tip to LDV readers Southampton airport has an exceptionally good rail link with London at Southampton Airport Parkway station – literally a few feet away from the airport and I suspect is quicker or about the same time to get to many parts of London than Heathrow or Gatwick.

    https://meetings.eastleigh.gov.uk/documents/s50030770/FINAL%20-%20Full%20Council%20Committee%20Report%20March%202021.pdf

  • @ Laurence Cox So I don’t understand it (though clever old you does) and it’s all hypocrisy. Says it all.

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