“It’s a silent killer”: Twickenham MP fights for clean air in London

Twickenham’s MP has handed in a petition to the Government supported by 327 local Twickenham residents, calling for a Clean Air Act to kickstart urgent action to tackle air pollution.

South West Londoner spoke to Liberal Democrat Munira Wilson, about her efforts to improve air quality and reduce pollution in London. 

She said: “Air pollution is a silent killer. Without knowing it, day in, day out, we can be exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution that can affect our health.”

TRAFFIC JAM: Cars are a big source of air pollution in London. Credit: Garry Knight via Flickr

She added that everyone was moved by the story of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who was the first person in the UK to have air pollution noted as a cause of death on their death certificate after it aggravated existing health conditions. 

An Environment Bill returned to the House of Lords this week, having been delayed for months after the Government voted against a number of key amendments in the Environment Bill relating to air pollution on the 26th of January.  

Wilson said: “They had the opportunity to bring the UK’s air pollution targets in line with 2005 World Health Organisation guidelines. These relate to fine particulate matter, which damages health and reduces life expectancy when inhaled at dangerous levels.

“Compliance with these guidelines across Europe could help prevent 52,000 deaths each year.

“Yet the Government voted against these limits.”

Wilson had hoped that after Brexit the UK would take the opportunity to crate their own Clean Air Act, but this is yet to happen.

She said: “The Government try and talk a good game on air pollution but the reality is that the Environment Bill which got delayed and delayed.”

Munira Wilson portrait. She is wearing a pink jacket and grey trousers and is smiling.
FIGHTING FOR CLEAN AIR: Wilson wants to reduce air pollution Credit: UK Parliament

Wilson said there are some details in the bill that commit the Government to putting in place legal limits on air pollution, but it doesn’t specify what those would be. 

She and others are becoming increasingly concerned about air pollution levels in London.

Across the capital, 99% of the population live in area that regularly break World Health Organisation Pollution limits.

Furthermore, around 4,000 deaths in London are linked to air pollution each year. 

Pollution in London decreased when the first lockdown was put in place as many people were not travelling.

Wilson said that there had been a wish for us not to return to the previous levels of pollution after the pandemic, but there was a challenge around how to get people out of their cars.

She stressed the need for more investment in public transport to make taking the train or bus easier than driving.

Many who campaign against air pollution are concerned about the proposed Heathrow expansion and Wilson pressed the Transport Secretary on this a number of weeks ago.

She added that she isn’t only concerned about the pollution from the extra planes, but also the surface traffic that travels to the airport. 

She said: “I want the travel industry to get the support it needs but we want a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow. If support comes it needs to be with a clear environment agenda attached.

“Although I’ve now delivered this petition to the Government, this campaign is far from over. I will continue to represent the views of local residents in fighting for action on air pollution so that everyone has access to clean air.”

Feature Image Credit: stu mayhew via flickr

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

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Jennifer Noble
Jennifer Noble
2 June 2021 11:57 pm

In order to encourage people to ride more bikes the Richmond Borough has to fix the roads. They are unsafe throughout the Borough. Many routes to schools and colleges are unsafe too which shouldn’t be allowed. The Twickenham Riverside pathway is totally unsafe. The company the Borough hired to fill potholes and fix roads does a terrible job and should be fired. They make the roads worse than they were before they were filled or fixed. Does any government official ever read Next Door Neighbor? They may learn how the residents really feel about the unsafe roads all over the Borough.

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