The MP for Ealing Central & Acton is on her way to securing Government funding to clean up a polluted area in Acton after her first Parliamentary intervention.
Rupa Huq intervened in a debate on air pollution held at the House of Commons on June 9 and got assurances from Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, Rory Stewart, that the Government would offer its support.
During the debate, called by London Mayor hopeful MP Diane Abbott, Ms Huq said: “My honourable friend mentioned Oxford Street, but there are also suburban equivalents. Horn Lane in Acton, off the A40, is one of the most polluted hotspots in London.
“Asthma UK, a neutral charity, has called the Government’s approach ‘designed to mask the true scale of England’s air quality crisis rather than make any real attempt to solve it'.
“The record is atrocious: there have been attempts to glue down air particulates near air quality sensors, and there has been a failure to create the network of electric car charging points that was planned. Also, the ultra-low emission zone is so far in the future that it will not help in the immediate term.”
Mr Stewart said: “I turn now to the specific points made by the many Members who have spoken today. The Hon. Member for Ealing Central & Acton (Dr Huq) mentioned Horn Lane. It is a highly complex situation.
“A range of different industrial plants operates there, including a cement works and a waste transfer station, all increasing the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere. Some mitigating measures could be introduced, ranging from walls to absorb particulate matter to cleaning the tyres of vehicles moving in and out of the stations in the area.
“Transport for London and Ealing Council have been looking at some technical issues, including using bus lanes to move road-cleaning vehicles more readily, and the Government have offered support to the council if it is interested in applying for road-cleaning vehicles.
“It is a serious issue, but we have a clear idea of possible mitigating measures. I encourage the hon. Lady to work with me to put pressure on the council to bring those measures in.”
Leader of Ealing Council, Julian Bell, was in attendance at the meeting and has confirmed the council is happy to apply for additional funding available to tackle this issue.
Ms Huq said: “It was the first time I’d spoken in the Commons but I was pleased to do so on this important debate on a vital subject.
"I get many emails about this issue which is nothing less than a silent killer in our midst responsible for 3,000 premature deaths a year in London.
“It makes a mockery of most people’s idea of Ealing Central and Acton as pleasant suburbia and it is time for action to take place rather than just words. I am pleased the Government have committed to help.”
Mr Bell added: “The Minister did not give any specifics about how much, all he said was there was an upcoming round of funding from Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) that would be available to assist with street washing equipment on Horn Lane.
“After the meeting I spoke to the Minister and his officers and they said the next round of funding would shortly be released for councils to bid for.”
The council leader said this indicates a “very good chance” of securing funding.