Theresa May’s half-baked air pollution plan puts poll ratings before people’s health

Publication date: 5th May 2017

Commenting on the UK government plan to tackle air pollution, published for consultation today, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said:

“We have heard a lot about ‘strong and stable leadership’ from Theresa May, but there’s none of it in a half-baked plan that puts poll ratings before people’s health. This hodge-podge of vague proposals offers little help and no justice to drivers duped by car companies and people breathing toxic air pollution. The only real winners are the car makers who despite misleading customers about their cars’ real emissions and causing this mess in the first place are getting off scot-free.

“The astonishing thing is that the government’s own plan accepts that diesel is at the root of the problem, and that phasing it out is the most effective solution. Yet the plan offers no real action to end the era of dodgy diesel. A plan to help drivers swap polluting diesel for electric cars would be a good idea, but the government’s proposal lacks scale and detail. What’s worse, the government is not just passing the buck to local authorities, it’s also tying one hand behind their backs by making it hard to phase out polluting cars and giving no new funds for delivery.

“Theresa May’s government promised to leave a healthier environment to the next generation. This plan is a missed opportunity to fulfill this pledge.”



– The government’s plan acknowledges that clean air zones charging diesel cars are the most effective solution to lower air pollution. “From the options considered, establishing Clean Air Zones (CAZs) is the most effective way to bring the UK into compliance with NO2 concentration levels in the shortest possible time.” (pg 9 and table on pg 10)

– According to the Times, sources at the Department for Transport are sceptical about the plan. They are quoted as saying: “It is not evidence based. There’s lot of decent stuff out there about how to improve air quality, such as blanket emissions charges aimed at the most polluting vehicles, but the expectation is that the vast majority of it will never find its way into the plan. No 10 is so terrified of being seen to be anti-motorist that the majority of the most effective solutions have been ruled out.”

Contact: Stefano Gelmini, m 07506 512442