Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 16 July
Pollution level: Moderate

Government Accused After Saying Air Quality is Too Expensive


On February 27th the government responded to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) report on air quality in London. Although appreciation for the report was mentioned, the overall impression when reading the full document is that of non-priority. Accusing the government reply as taking a “business as usual” approach and ignoring their recommendations, EAC chair Joan Walley MP also mentions the lack of public awareness campaigns about the dangers of air pollution and possible actions to minimize its causes and effects. As an example she cites Environmental Protection UK, a national charity providing policy analysis and advice on environmental issues, which is struggling to keep
its funding.

According to The Guardian,“for the first time, the government admitted that the costs of meeting EU pollution targets may not match the benefits”. The affirmation is basedon the following statement by Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):

The government … supports further EU ambitions to reduce health and
environmental impacts of air pollution … However, there was never an intention
for any of the [EU] deadlines to force measures that would impose disproportionate
costs on society. Deadlines … must reflect both the availability of measures and the
affordability of implementation relative to the benefits

A rather controversial point of the document is the reduction of dangerously high nitrogen dioxide levels (NO2, a gas emitted mainly from burning diesel fuel). While the report accuses the UK of already receiving an extension (from 2011 to 2015) to meet EU targets and believes further changes to the date should be subject to fines, DEFRA’s response says:

…it has become clear that even the extended compliance date of January 2015
is inadequate, not just for parts of the UK, but also for parts of many other EU

Read the full report and response here
More on this story in The Guardian




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