Welsh Government's failure to implement the Clean Air Bill

Haris Hussnain, a member of the Gwent Green Party, discusses the failure of the Welsh Labour Government to implement the Clean Air Bill and protect inhabitants of places such as Newport.

Air pollution
Haris Hussnain

Recently Utility bidder released a list detailing some of the most polluted cities in the UK. I must say I was not surprised to see Newport written on the list along with Wrexham. Back in 2021 the Welsh Government and their labour leadership proposed a Clean Air Bill and therefore acknowledged the threats polluted air presents to many communities in Wales.

One area, in particular, is Newport where much air is polluted from highly concentrated traffic being squeezed through the Brynglas tunnels. Back in 2019, the Welsh Government scrapped plans for a relief road in favour of more environmentally-friendly alternatives. But, despite the creation of an action plan, the Welsh Government haven’t drafted any solutions to reduce air pollution in areas such as Newport. As a Newport citizen, I can confirm that there are hardly any alternatives for people using the tunnels. There is a lot of strain on public transport meaning there are highly concentrated areas of CO2 in Newport which have led to one out of every 22 deaths.

With quite a few years having passed since the creation of the Clean Air Bill, one would hope to see some change in post-industrial cities and towns. However, the only thing they’ve achieved is making the big cities of Cardiff and Swansea pollutant free while everyone living elsewhere has to breathe polluted air. Welsh Labour MPs prefer to state obvious facts about climate change – which are public knowledge – than remove the obstacles that are threatening the wellbeing of others.

Personally, I think the Welsh Government and council should reflect on Newport’s industrial past and make changes tailored to the city. Most of the air pollution is due to traffic squeezes and road congestion due to a lack of effort to modernise the city. It’s still stuck in its industrial past. Currently, Labor MPs continue to promise more solar panels on roofs when I think they should be focusing on traffic and reducing congestion. 

I understand that there is an aim to become net zero by 2050 and a lot of green and sustainable steps have been taken by Labour in Newport. They’re just not the right green steps and more thought needs to be put into revolutionising the roads and minimising the concentration of C02.