Thank you for contacting me about air pollution and heart and circulatory health.
I share your concerns that dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution are impacting the health of millions of people across the country, including those most vulnerable in our communities. This is something I have personally raised in the Commons on several occasions and I know that Lewisham Council and the Mayor of London have been doing a lot of great work to improve the quality of air we breathe here in Lewisham Deptford.
A report by the Royal College of Physicians estimates that 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK are attributable to air pollution. Exposure to fine particulate matter is also linked to poor health, including asthma, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
In January, the Government published its Clean Air Strategy which set the commitment of halving the number of people living in areas that breach World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on fine particulate matter by 2025. The Government says further provisions on air quality will be included in the Environment Bill later this year.
In my view, this strategy contains vague targets, no detail and fails to tackle the issue of roadside pollutants. I am concerned that the Government is continuing to place the responsibility for air pollution on local authorities when budgets are already strained.
I believe this public health emergency needs to be tackled with the urgency, leadership and seriousness it so desperately needs. That is why my Labour colleagues and I are calling for a new Clean Air Act, a network of clean air zones and an ambitious clean transport strategy to tackle illegal air pollution as a priority.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your concerns. I will bear in mind the points you have raised and continue to press the Government to take meaningful action on air pollution.