Liberal Democrat Leader, Ed Davey MP, argues his party’s plan for massive new investment in clean air action would be a “treble dividend” for a local community’s health, environment and economy.
With air pollution causing 40,000 early deaths a year and transport now the country’s biggest source of carbon emissions, the Liberal Democrats are making a boost to the nation’s health a key part of their strategy to tackle the climate emergency too.
During a visit to Watford ahead of May’s elections, Ed Davey MP unveiled the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for a £20bn Community Clean Air fund – part of the party’s £150 billion Green Economic Recovery Plan. The fund would enable Councils and communities to spearhead a local transport revolution, to improve people’s transport choices.
Arguing local air pollution is a “health emergency” alongside the climate emergency, Liberal Democrats see the Community Clean Air Fund as enabling local councils to develop new 3 year clean air programmes, linked to their community’s specific transport challenges.
The Liberal Democrats’ £20 billion Community Clean Air Fund will target all transport emissions affecting local communities and the climate, with emergency 3 year plans to transform people’s local transport options, including:
- New walking and cycling routes (£5.5 billion)
- New light rail and tram projects (£4.5 billion)
- Expansion of bus routes – old ones restored and new introduced (£5 billion)
- Hydrogen bus revolution – to convert bus fleets to hydrogen (£2 billion)
- New council-led clean air zones for congested towns and cities (£2 billion)
- Extra electric vehicle charging points (£1 billion)
Ed Davey says the Liberal Democrats want an economic recovery that creates local jobs in the clean, climate businesses and technologies of the future, with a focus on tackling local and global air pollution:
“Air pollution is an invisible enemy threatening the community spaces we love and the people we care most about. 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.
“After the experience of the pandemic, people want action focused on their community and know that bold action for clean air could bring huge health and environmental benefits – and help kickstart the green recovery and the new jobs we all know are so desperately needed.
“Our Community Clean Air Fund would let councils and communities invest in the transport systems and options they need, rather than Whitehall and Westminster dictating what’s right.
“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.”