Lords defeat for Government a victory for clean air

09 September 2021, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has strongly welcomed the vote in the House of Lords earlier this week to amend the Environment Bill and commit the UK Government to World Health Organisation (WHO) levels on air quality.

With Parliament returning following summer recess, the Government's flagship Environment Bill began its Report Stage in the House of Lords, with Peers voting on a number of amendments.

As part of the Healthy Air Campaign coalition of charities and public health organisations, CIEH has been working with peers to table amendments aimed at strengthening the environmental commitments within the Bill, most notably on air quality.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock's amendment, supported by HAC, called for the UK Government to commit to reaching WHO levels on air quality by 2030 was voted through by 181-159 votes despite resistance from the Government.

Speaking for the Government, Lord Goldsmith said that it was vital to ensure that both the Government and the public understand the kinds of actions needed and the restrictions which may be required to achieve these targets.

However, Baroness Hayman argued that the amendment is critical to drive the progress that the country needs and that a great deal of existing evidence and information is already available in order for the Government to start taking action.

Julie Barratt, CIEH President, said:

"This vote is a real success for all those organisations campaigning to improve air quality across the Nation.

Although we welcome the ambition expressed by the UK Government in relation to the Environment Bill, we want to see some tangible and binding targets set. There is a now a broad appreciation of the need to tackle the growing issue of poor air quality in our country and the Government must use this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment safeguarding our health and our environment.

We will continue to campaign alongside our partner organisations in the Healthy Air Campaign to call on MPs to uphold this amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons."

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