Bristol’s Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato has accused Environment Secretary Michael Gove of pointing the finger of blame for the UK’s illegal air quality in every direction but at the government and the chief causes of the problem.
She said, “Michael Gove is pointing the finger of blame everywhere except at his own government. Neither is he willing to address the main culprit for the poisonous air in our towns and cities: road transport.
“Highlighting the contribution of solid fuel burners is a smoke screen designed to avoid taking on the motoring lobby. New stoves are coming on stream which eliminates almost all emissions – innovation being driven in no small part by strict emissions limits set by the EU.
“Shifting responsibility to local authorities without firm legislation or money to back up action is grossly irresponsible. As for the suggestion that the UK could better EU environmental legislation after Brexit, this is blatantly absurd. For four decades, the real muscle when it comes to environmental protection has always been shown by the EU, and often in opposition to our own government. Air pollution is a case in point. Three times now the UK government has been taken to court by environmental lawyers for beaching EU air quality standards and last week was referred to the European Court of Justice.
“Rather than buck passing and a ‘not me guv’ attitude, there is a clear need for leadership. We need a national network of Clean Air Zones to take the most polluting vehicles out of our cities. The government’s own research shows that these are by far the most effective way to tackle air pollution. Yet the Tories have refused to make these compulsory, instead making them voluntary and a last-resort option for local authorities.”