Liberal Democrats have unveiled their General Election manifesto with plans to force the country’s most polluted areas to launch Low Emission Zones.
The document outlines how the party would introduce a Green Transport Act that could legally require locations worst affected by vehicle emissions to introduce limits on pollution heavy vehicles.
It also outlines a target to see only ultra-low emission vehicles permitted on UK roads for non-freight purposes by 2040, with all bus and taxis meeting this limit by 2030.
If the party takes power in May, it has pledged to set out 10-year rolling capital investment plans, complete East-West rail connections between Oxford and Cambridge, deliver the £15bn Transport for the North strategy and strengthen links in the South West after the region was cut off by flooding.
Work would take place to stimulate at least £100bn more private sector investment in flood protection and increase use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.
Saving energy would become a ‘top infrastructure priority’, backed by tax incentives and public investment.
Liberal Democrats said they would also spend £10 a head every year on cycling within existing budgets and support intercity biking routes along the path of HS2, which will also continue to receive backing.
However the party would oppose expansion at Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick or any airport in the Thames estuary because of noise and pollution issues.
Five ‘green laws’ included in the manifesto would launch a national 25-year plan for recovering nature, a new requirement for rising environmental criteria in public sector procurement and a new forestry body backed by secure funding.
The party acknowledged further austerity would be required but this would come from cuts and tax changes for the wealthiest. The party said it would reduce spending by £50bn less than the Conservatives and borrow £70bn less than Labour.
Launching the manifesto in London, party leader Nick Clegg said the document was a ‘plan to finish the job of balancing the books, and to do so fairly by protecting our schools, hospitals and public services’.
‘This manifesto is an insurance policy against a government lurching off to the extremes. At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity.
‘I’m not denying that either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will be prime minister. One of them will. But you know and they know that neither of them will win outright.
‘The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and we will add a brain to a Labour one. We won’t allow the Conservatives to cut too much and jeopardise our schools and hospitals. And we won’t allow Labour to borrow too much and risk our economy again.’