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What do the UK party manifestos promise on air pollution?

The UK will head to the polls tomorrow. The environment doesn’t often feature highly in general election campaigns, but people’s concerns about air pollution have made headlines in recent weeks.

Each political party has set out their key priorities in their manifestos. Here we round up what many parties have – or haven’t – said on air pollution:


The Conservative Party manifesto said it will take action against poor air quality in urban areas. There is a promise to make every car and van zero-emission by 2050, through an investment of £600 million by 2020 and a pledge to invest in more low-emission buses.


The Labour Party manifesto said it will introduce a new clean air act to deal with illegal air quality. It also pledged to improve the development and use of electric vehicles.

Liberal Democrat

The Liberal Democrat manifesto said it will introduce a diesel scrappage scheme and ban the sale of diesel cars by 2025. It pledged to extend ultra-low emission zones to 10 more towns and cities through an air quality plan and all private hire vehicles and buses will be low or zero emission within five years.


The Green Party manifesto said it will introduce a one-off fine on car manufacturers who cheated emissions testing and create a new Clean Air Act, expanding the clean air zone network. It pledges to increase incentives to remove diesel cars from roads and invest in walking and cycling schemes.

Scottish National Party

The SNP manifesto did not mention air pollution. It pledged to keep EU environmental rules (which includes air quality laws) and committed to continue investment in new roads.


The UK Independence Party does not mention air pollution explicitly, but criticises ‘punitive taxes’ on diesel cars and proposals to ban them from city centres. They support a scrappage scheme and call for an incentive scheme to promote electric and hybrid vehicles. They commit to no higher taxes on diesel drivers or emissions zone charging.

Whichever party wins the election we need a plan of action to tackle this urgent public health crisis. This should include a national network of clean air zones, taking the dirtiest vehicles out of the most polluted parts of our towns and cities. Measures to help people switch to cleaner forms of transport such as a scrappage scheme and changes to vehicle taxation will help too.

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Gillie Rhodes

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