Call for tough law for Cleaner Air Act if ‘no-deal Brexit’ goes ahead, Tower Hamlets mayor warns
PUBLISHED: 10:58 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:07 05 July 2019
Local authorities must get tougher powers to tackle pollution if Britain quits the EU without a deal, the mayor of Tower Hamlets has warned.
John Biggs is backing a campaign for a new Clean Air act of parliament that the council would use to tackle "poor air quality" in the East End which has some of London's worst-polluted busy traffic roads.
A new Act could include "a legal right to unpolluted air" as well as bringing the ban on new petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030 and introducing temporary traffic bans outside schools at home time.
"Our aim is to become a zero-carbon council by 2025," the mayor said. "We are reducing CO2 emissions, but there's much more we need to do, with action at local, national and international level to address climate change."
But he warned: "A 'no-deal' Brexit would have catastrophic implications for environmental standards. The Tory leadership candidates need to understand that."
The mayor is backing the 'Clean Air for All' campaign calling for the legislation.
He wants a new Clean Air Act so that regulations are not "watered down" after Brexit, especially if there's no EU withdrawal agreement.
Around 80 per cent of the UK's environmental laws and regulations currently come from the EU.
Tower Hamlets itself has had one of the largest reductions in CO2 emissions in Britain, which have halved since 2005, new government figures show.
These include domestic energy, traffic and commercial use. But levels of nitrogen dioxide across London are breaching legal EU levels.
The council declared a 'climate emergency' in March and announced its aim to become a zero-carbon local authority by 2025.
Deputy Mayor Rachel Blake, cabinet member for air quality, said: "We have seen a reduction in CO2 emissions, but need to go further with protections enshrined in law to really tackle climate change."
The authority has introduced measures which include a campaign to stop drivers leaving engines idling and is also setting up 50 'school streets' and 'play streets' so that children aren't exposed to fumes.
The council has also created a 'Liveable Streets' fund to make things easier for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport commuters, while also installing 300 electric vehicle charging points.