TWO local MPs have faced each other in the House of Commons - and agreed that air quality remains a ‘hugely important’ issue.

Otley’s MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) and Horsforth and Aireborough’s MP Stuart Andrew (Con, Pudsey) addressed each across the despatch box on Thursday, September 10.

Mr Sobel, Labour’s shadow Tourism and Heritage Minister, said he was ‘delighted’ to see his neighbour: but then posed him a question about Leeds’ Clean Air Charging Zone, which is currently suspended.

He said: “I’m sure he (Mr Andrew) shares concerns with me around air quality.

“Today we see the publication of the Climate Assembly report of which air quality is a very important part.

“Our own Clean Air Zone in Leeds is under threat. We haven’t had a statement from the Government on this or a debate and it’s not just an issue for us in Leeds but Birmingham and other cities.

“Will he press on his colleague at DEFRA to come forward and make a statement or for a debate to come in front of the house on this hugely important issue?”

Leeds City Council recently announced that the local Clean Air Charging Zone was being delayed so an urgent review could be carried out.

The review is being held because air quality improved dramatically during the coronavirus lockdown, which has placed a question mark over the future of the Leeds scheme.

Mr Andrew, referring to that fact, told the Commons: “He (Mr Sobel) is right to highlight air quality. It’s good to see that there’s been some significant improvements but there’s much, much more that needs to be done and he rightly cites cities like Leeds.

“We’ve just had DEFRA questions but he may want to think about applying for an adjournment debate where ministers can come and answer his specific questions.”

The review into the multi-million pound Leeds clean air zone is being held because the council could lose out on vital Government funding to pay for it depending on the levels of local air pollution.

The local authority’s Sustainable Energy & Air Quality department, explaining the decision to ‘pause’ the zone, has explained that: “The aim of the planned charging Clean Air Zone is to clean our air to comply with national standards for air quality quickly, by encouraging business to switch to cleaner vehicles that won’t be charged. The purpose of the joint review is to fully understand whether this aim has been achieved without having to charge a single vehicle.”

Deputy leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis, told a September 8 meeting of its Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board that air quality levels were remaining ‘really good’ due to there still being ‘a lot less vehicles on the roads’.