MPs to ‘keep up heat’ on government over air pollution

The re-elected chair of an influential House of Commons environmental select committee has said he will ‘hold the government’s feet to the fire’ over its plans to tackle air pollution.

Neil Parish the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton was this week re-appointed chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, following nominations by his colleagues in Parliament. He saw off bids for the post from Conservative MPs Zac Goldsmith and Bill Wiggin.

Mr Parish lists improving air quality as one of his ‘top priorities’ in office.

Neil Parish has been re-appointed chair of the EFRA Committee

Under his stewardship since 2015, the EFRA committee has led a high-profile inquiry into air pollution which saw Transport Minister John Hayes and Defra Minister Therese Coffey jointly grilled over the government’s air quality policy (see airqualitynews.com story).

Following the hearing in December 2016, Mr Parish wrote to the government to express his disappointment at the response provided by the two ministers (see airqualitynews.com story).

Commenting on his reappointment, Mr Parish said: “I am delighted to have been re-elected as chair of the EFRA Committee.

“The coming months are crucial for Defra in preparing for the Brexit negotiations. My Committee has a vital role to play. I look forward to working with colleagues across the House to hold the government’s feet to the fire on issues such as Brexit preparations, post-Brexit agricultural policy and air quality.

“I am keen to continue our work listening to the concerns of rural communities and stakeholders in the agricultural and environmental sectors to make sure their voices are heard in Parliament.”

Audit Committee

Another high-profile MP holding government to account over environmental issues is Mary Creagh, the Labour MP for Wakefield, who has this week been confirmed as the chair of the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee having taken over the role in February 2016.

She had served as Labour’s Shadow Defra minister between 2010 and 2013 under Ed Miliband’s leadership.

As Environmental Audit Committee chair she has led an inquiry into the future of environmental laws post-Brexit, in which she expressed a ‘lack of confidence’ in the government’s will to enforce air quality standards once the UK has left the EU.

On her re-election as chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mrs Creagh said: “I am delighted to be re-elected Chair of Parliament’s cross-party green watchdog, the Environmental Audit Committee. Solving environmental problems like air pollution, plastic waste and wildlife loss is vital if we want to leave a better world for our children.

“The environment was conspicuously absent from the Queen’s speech. I am determined it will not be ignored in the Brexit negotiations.”