Labour Party ‘scraps commitment to clean air zones’

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has backtracked on his party’s commitment to clean air zones, according to reports in the Telegraph over the weekend.

A leaked copy of the initial draft of Labour’s national policy platform, seen by ENDS in May, stated that: “Labour supports the principle of Clean Air Zones and recognises the huge damage and human health caused by air pollution and the damage to our climate caused by carbon emissions from polluting vehicles.”

However, according to a photograph seen by the Telegraph, this paragraph was scored at the party’s National Policy Forum last month.

According to the newspaper, a Labour source confirmed that the policy had been officially dropped and would not feature in the revised document. 

The Labour source told the newspaper: “Clean air zones are Conservative government policy. The Tories are the ones who have pushed councils to introduce them. Labour is not in favour of extra burdens on drivers during a Tory-made cost of living crisis.

“Labour’s priority is growing the economy to improve living standards and tackle the cost of living crisis, not pushing up costs for hard working families.

“We are committed to tackling air pollution and we will introduce a Clean Air Act, but we will always look at options for reducing air pollution which do not put the burden on hard working families.”

ENDS has contacted the party for confirmation. 

The National Policy Forum plays a crucial role in helping Labour form its general election manifesto. Its latest meeting  took place last month just after the by-election in Uxbridge, which saw Starmer blame the result - which saw the Tories narrowly beat Labour in Boris Johnson’s former constituency by 495 votes - on mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to expand the capital’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) to outer London. 

READ MORE: Liars, lawyers, and Ella’s law: Sadiq Khan on how ULEZ became a proxy for climate action delay

This has seen both major parties backtrack on various green policies, with Starmer reported to have urged Khan to “reflect” on the scheme. 

The draft national policy platform also includes a pledge to pass a Clean Air Act, with the document stating that the Labour Party would “write standards for safe air developed by the World Health Organisation into UK law” - something the current government has been consistently criticised for not doing. 

The party has also previously pledged to take forward the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill if elected. 

In a speech delivered at Middle Temple in February, Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary and shadow Lord chancellor, said that the “Labour Party will oppose tooth and nail any attempt by the Conservative government to repeal the Human Rights Act” ... “Indeed, we will go beyond this”. 

He said that a Labour government will “debate the next frontier of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Whether it is rights to clean air, or a sustainable climate. The right to adequate health care and sufficient nutrition. The right to transparency, accountability and ownership over the use of your personal data.”