Source: London Air Quality Network
We have spoken to tens of thousands of constituents across Croydon Central over recent weeks. Something which has become clear is that air quality is of major concern to many of you.
That concern is not unwarranted.
Croydon has some of the worst air quality in the UK. In fact, we exceed legal limits set by the EU for air quality. Our levels of harmful Nitrogen Dioxide have consistently exceeded legal limits.* What's more, Public Health England figures showed that in 2016 Croydon was in the top three London boroughs for deaths from PM2.5 pollution - toxic particles from diesel vehicles which have recently been scientifically proven to damage our hearts.
This is totally unacceptable. These levels of pollution put us all at risk, and are particularly damaging for our children and elderly people. 9,400 premature deaths per year are linked to air pollution in London, and we have 438 schools with unsafe pollution levels.
Shockingly, late last year Croydon was among five London boroughs where parents were actually warned against taking babies outdoors due to a day of such extreme pollution. I want to set out my pledges on this important issue if I am elected as your MP on 8th June:
- I will campaign to include Croydon in the Mayor of London's new Ultra Low Emission Zone, which the Mayor has brought forward to 2019 for central London, and which will then be extended to London suburbs.
- In the meantime, I will lobby TfL to introduce more low emission buses on Croydon routes, and work with Croydon Council to reduce the impact of Heavy Goods Vehicles, such as those which will be needed for the Westfield development.
- I will campaign for increased use and provision of public transport and cycling in Croydon, working with local groups, TfL and Croydon Council.
- I will support Labour's plans for a Clean Air Act, with legally enforceable standards for air quality, as well as making sure Brexit does not have a negative impact on environmental protections.
- I will support London Mayor Sadiq Khan's calls for a national Diesel Scrappage Scheme which will financially compensates motorists for scrapping heavily polluting vehicles, as well as changes to Vehicle Excise Duty to make environmentally friendly cars more attractive.
My Conservative opponent made promises in 2015 on "reducing air pollution." It's disappointing to see that since then he has not mentioned air pollution in Croydon once in the Houses of Parliament.
The Tory Government's new draft air quality plan has been criticised as "wholly inadequate" by environmental groups. The Government has twice been taken to court and told by independent judges that current policies are illegal in failing to tackle air pollution.
The Conservatives clearly knew their latest plan was weak - they had to be forced by a High Court order to publish it before the election. If they had a robust plan to tackle air pollution, why were they so scared to publish their plan before the election?