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Minister: We need law to tackle air pollution

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THE Environment Minister has called for new laws on pollution and said that the current ‘dysfunctional set-up in government’ means it is not possible to set meaningful air-quality standards.

Traffic at the Esplanade Picture: JON GUEGAN. (24396650)

Speaking to the JEP following the establishment of an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London this week, Deputy Young said that Jersey has done the research but has failed to put in place the powers to create its own emissions standards.

‘At the moment, I think we have a dysfunctional set-up in government, in terms of the Environment Minister’s roles and the relevant laws,’ he said. ‘We can do the monitoring and we can do the reports but there isn’t the power to do what the UK has done [in creating London’s ULEZ] and set air-quality standards. That would need a new law.’

However, the Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Kevin Lewis, said that, while he agrees Jersey suffers from traffic congestion and pollution, a congestion charge or a pollution charge similar to London’s ULEZ ‘would not be suitable for the Island’.

‘We are trying to alleviate both the problems of congestion and pollution,’ he said. ‘What I would like to do is increase the amount of electric vehicles in Jersey to reduce pollution and get rid of the old polluting vehicles.

‘We are now signed up to the Vienna Convention, so we do now have periodic vehicle inspections, which will get a lot of the polluting vehicles off the road.’

But Deputy Young believes that to really tackle the issue of polluting vehicles, Jersey needs to make its own legislation.

‘In the UK and the EU, they have set standards for people to meet, and targets to improve, and that has been going on for a very long time,’ he said. ‘There have been numerous EU directives on it, but we do not have that power in Jersey.

‘I would like to see a strengthening of legal powers that would allow us to deal with pollution generally – not just air pollution but also other forms of pollution. In other words, an overall framework providing the legal power to set those standards.

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‘I think that is important because then we would have the tools to reflect EU and UK standards as they come.’

This difference in ministerial views comes at a time when St Helier Deputy Rob Ward has tabled a proposition for debate at the end of the month, arguing that the States should become carbon-neutral by 2030 in order to combat ‘a climate emergency likely to have profound effects in Jersey’.

Deputy Ward said that climate considerations needed to become an ‘integral part’ of local politicians’ thinking when debating and setting future policies.

‘This proposition would change the focus of Jersey’s government and the Assembly, and include the issue of climate change onto the agenda of the Council of Ministers and into the process of producing the government plan,’ he said. ‘This will then mean that climate change impact is an integral feature of policy-making.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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