Liberal Democrats

F8: Cleaning Up the Air We Breathe – How to Tackle Road Pollution

This motion notes the health problems caused by roadside pollution, and that the EU is currently the body responsible for regulating road pollution levels.

The motion calls for measures to encourage drivers to use hybrid or electric cars, testing air pollution more thoroughly, and for electric car charging and future public transport to be prioritised in future city planning decisions. 


Mover: Baroness Randerson (Spokesperson for Transport).

Summation: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government).

Conference notes with concern:

  1. The dangerous rise in the emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulates, and ozone (O3).
  2. The impact of these emissions cause 40,000 early deaths each year.
  3. That emissions have serious impacts of children’s health particularly impairing lung development.
  4. That the UK has broken the legal limits, set by the EU, for NO2 every year since 2010.
  5. That road transport is responsible for 80% of roadside NO2 emissions.
  6. That the EU is currently responsible for ensuring the government complies with air quality legislation, and that this oversight would be lost after Brexit.

Conference believes that:

  1. People have the right to live in an area with unpolluted air.
  2. All laws currently governing air quality currently afforded under EU regulations must be upheld in UK law.
  3. The government must be fully accountable for missing any air quality targets and government policy must support cleaning up the air we breathe.

Conference calls on the Government to:

  1. Progressively ban the sale or import of new petrol and diesel cars and small vans, exempting all hybrids in the early stages, progressing to exempting only plug in hybrids within ten years.
  2. Replace their own current vehicle fleet with electric, hybrid or other ultra-low emission vehicles by 2022.
  3. Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency, enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air wherever people live.
  4. Undertake air pollution testing more widely and frequently, with warning signs displayed in pollution hotspots and in sensitive areas such as near schools.
  5. Reform Vehicle Excise Duty so that it is graduated to reflect levels of both NO2 and CO2 emissions in every year.
  6. Extend the existing ban on unnecessary idling of petrol/diesel vehicles on public roads to anywhere on public or private land, and encourage local authorities to enforce such a ban, especially near sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals parks and care homes.
  7. Reverse the cuts to electric vehicle subsidies and extend them by exploring VAT reductions for electric vehicles and other incentives.
  8. Use its new powers to standardise plug sockets for electric vehicles.
  9. Invest in research into alternative technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, as well as into battery technology.
  10. Provide the funding to retrofit or replace all diesel buses operating in urban areas within five years.
  11. Introduce new planning legislation requiring all new large developments and regeneration schemes to have low emissions transport plans, which include electric vehicle charging facilities.
  12. Invest significantly in schemes to speed up the strategic roll-out of rapid charging points. Work with local authorities to expand them to popular in-town locations such as public car parks and supermarkets.
  13. Invest in residential on-street charging, using the existing lamp post infrastructure wherever possible so as not to clutter the pavement.
  14. Provide greater and more ambitious support for all forms of public transport and for active travel initiatives involving walking and cycling.

Conference reaffirms pledges in the Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto to:

  1. Extend ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities.
  2. Require all private hire vehicles licensed to operate in urban areas should be electric, hybrid, or capable of running on other ultra-low emission technology, within five years.
  3. Reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.

Applicability: Federal; except 3 (lines 64–66), which is England and Wales; and d) (lines 30–32), f) (lines 35–36), j) (lines 43–44), l), m) & n) (lines 52–57), and 2. (lines 61–63), which are England only.