Edinburgh MP presses Boris Johnson to back her Clean Air Bill and bring UK targets in line with international guidelines

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Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has secured a meeting with a UK Government minister to discuss her Clean Air Bill, which was inspired by the persistent problem of pollution in Queenferry Road and St John’s Road, Corstorphine.

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She raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons ahead of the second reading of her Bill, on December 10, which would ensure the UK’s clean air targets comply with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Ms Jardine said: "My constituency to Edinburgh West has some of the most polluted streets in our country. An estimated one in 19 deaths in Edinburgh is related to air pollution and we don’t meet WHO guidelines.”

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Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine JardineEdinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine
Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine

She asked if the Prime Minister would meet her to discuss whether the Government could support her private members bill to tackle the issue and “let us all breathe a little easier”.

Boris Johnson said it was an “incredibly important” issue. “That’s why we’re moving to all-out electric vehicles across the whole of the country faster than any other European country and our clean air strategy has been praised by the WHO as an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

But he said he would make sure she met the relevant minister to set out her case.

Ms Jardine said afterwards: “There are few things more important to our general health than the air that we breathe, and in Edinburgh West that has been a particular problem along both St John’s Road and Queensferry Road.

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“And not just in my constituency but up and down the country where people have been failed by the Government’s lack of action on air quality.

“What we all need is for the UK Government to commit to the world standard on air quality and I shall be making that clear to the minister in our meeting.

“It is not enough to talk about electric vehicles if you are cutting Air Passenger Duty or talk about COP26, what we need is action.”

The Bill would ensure the UK’s clean air targets complied with WHO guidelines and would also require the Government to report annually to parliament on them.

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Ms Jardine said: “I know from bitter personal experience, being brought up in an area where asbestosis is a major killer, that you don’t know if what you are breathing is toxic until it’s too late.

“That applies as much to the pollution from petrol and diesel engines as anything else. Living under lockdown restrictions over the past year and more, we have all noticed the improvements in the quality of the air we have been breathing and benefits of clean air in our local communities.

“This Bill would ensure the Government is taking this issue seriously, establishing a framework for clean air targets and help to alleviate the burden on our NHS.”

Ms Jardine has also criticised Edinburgh’s Low Emission Zone proposals for not going far enough. St John’ Road and Queensferry Road both fall outside the proposed zone.

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