Author – Oliver Wootton

Latest of the press, Jeremy Corbyn addresses the issue of UK air pollution. Less than one day away our report on UK air pollution is due, this is seen as the ‘perfect time’ for the government to apply for a delay until after the General Election… Is it just a get out of jail card? I’ll leave that up to your own determinations… How big of an issue is air pollution? and what is Labour going to do about it? These questions will be answered in the following article.

BIG ISSUE… small issue

It depends on who you ask, but doesn’t it always… It is estimated that 40,000 people feel the effects, with evidence suggesting a ‘shortening of life’ by as much as ‘6 months’. This is where things get a bit ‘grey’, the figure of 40,000 has had a lot of opposition over its factual basis. Even the government recognised the number could be ‘a sixth as big or even double’ in a report from 2010, (Committee on the medical effects of pollutants, ‘The mortality rates of long term exposure to particulate air pollution in the United Kingdom’).


London can be said to be the biggest contributor with air levels reaching ‘illegal’ limits, according Mr Justice Garnham, (Client Earth V DEFRA, 2016 EWHC 2740). It’s not just London, data suggest that 16 areas are also being reported to have excessive levels. It must be said that when we think of air pollution Co2 may come to mind, this is not in fact the pollutant in question, No2 (Nitrogen oxide) is the main culprit, this comes from certain types of industry and vehicles. It is speculated a reasonable portion of pollutants stem from Diesel cars, given, several car companies were found to have ‘tweaked’ Diesel emissions tests so as to comply with EU standards.


Theresa May PM has stated, ‘since 2010 there has been a reduction of 14% in greenhouse gases’. In 2013 the UK population was recorded at approx 64 million, that means current effects of Air pollution reach just 0.0625% of the population, ‘supposedly’. The actual effects have not been proven to cause death categorically, it is only a considered contributor. On a day where we announce air pollution troubles, we also announced our first day without using coal as an electrical source! So maybe we might be heading in the right direction, even if it is slower then we could all hope.

Regardless of how bad it is, it is still a problem…

No one can deny that it isn’t an issue, clearly it is. It doesn’t just effect healthy people, those with conditions such as asthma feel even more negative side effects. With the Conservatives failing to provide an answer to the Supreme Courts direction to take ‘immediate action’, what does Jeremy Corbyn have to offer?

  • Theresa May PM had announced new legislation to allow a veto on renewable energy sources for communities, Corbyn disagrees, a Lancaster Labour MP has suggested that we implement a veto on fracking instead.
  • Corbyn highlights that the government is spending money defending its ‘illegal’ actions relating to air pollution, for example fines from the EU for failing to stick to targets. A call for change would amount to a saving in the budget where better policies can be introduced, as opposed to defending ‘the indefensible’.
  • The ‘Independent’ has reported that Jeremy Corbyn is considering a Ban on certain new petrol cars. This would mean only Low-emission or zero-emission vehicles could be purchased after a set cut of date.

Ultimately, something has to be done and with the electorate as unpredictable as ever who knows…. It has been reported that the Green Party are not placing candidates in certain local councils to assist Labour in gaining seats to overtake the Conservative’s. This can’t be said to be a bad thing necessarily, the possible allegiance may help the Green party push Labour for greater policies on green issues.

Thank you for reading, please follow LEGAL EAGLE for a view on politics and the law in a plain talking language. Updates on the general election campaign will be soon to follow…