Friday, 22 November, 2019

Brexit Risks Half A Million More Air Pollution Deaths, MP Warns

Brexit Risks Half A Million More Air Pollution Deaths, MP Warns Brexit Risks Half A Million More Air Pollution Deaths, MP Warns
Russell Knight | 15 March, 2018, 23:32

The Government says it will publish its plan later in the year.

In what is thought to be an unprecendented joint inquirty, cuccessive governments were accused of being slow to take the necessary action on air pollution even when confronted with legal proceedings at the United Kingdom and European Union level.

Ministers announced in July 2017 that sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles would be banned from 2040, but a joint committee report has accused the Government of failing to take adequate measures to reduce air pollution.

The report sets out that it is unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air and that despite a series of court cases, the Government has still not produced a plan that adequately addresses the scale of the challenge.

Yet, judging by today's joint report by no less than four Parliamentary committees, far more needs to be done after they concluded that air pollution is a national health emergency that leads to 40,000 early deaths each year and costs the United Kingdom economy £20bn a year.

The report also called for vehicle manufacturers to be made to contribute to a "clean air fund" and criticised plans to ban the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 as "lacking sufficient ambition".

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said levels had "improved significantly" since 2010, but that ministers recognise there is more to do.

The committees urged the Government to force the automotive industry to put money into a new fund to improve air quality.

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The joint report was compiled by four select committees: Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health and Social Care, and Transport.

Davies added: "The report also makes clear that Brexit should not be seen as a convenient opportunity for the government to continue to ignore the law and lower standards further".

There was a concern the situation could get worse if the government did not push "Green Brexit" to ensure air quality control after the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

"The EU Withdrawal Bill purports to transfer EU laws, rights and protections into United Kingdom law but fails to safeguard public health from air pollution by excluding air quality standards and enforcement agencies".

It said a Clean Air Act should be tabled to toughen existing legislation and make clean air a legal right. Poor air quality now costs the country about £20 billion every year.

"It is even more concerning that children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk".

The report states that while clean air zones (CAZ) which charge more polluting vehicles for access were effective in improving urban air quality there wasn't enough support for local authorities to introduce them, with current policy identifying them as a last resort to cutting pollution.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth submitted evidence to the committee inquiry to help inform the report and said they were pleased with its "hard-hitting" findings. "Vehicle manufacturers are funding scrappage schemes themselves to get the older vehicles off the road". The solution isn't just about reducing the pollution each vehicle produces, we also need policies that will reduce our reliance on cars.

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