Report shames local authorities

New government figures have revealed that 75 per cent of local authorities are failing to implement the UK's core air pollution regulations.

A new report, published by DEFRA, shows that local authorities are still failing to regularly inspect polluting processes - a full ten years after the Local Authority Pollution Control regime came into force. The report, Local Authority Pollution Control Statistical Survey 2000-2001, has named and shamed the worst performing 89 local authorities - those that have failed to inspect the processes under their jurisdiction even once a year. Five authorities - Alnwich, Hastings, Tyne Port Health Authority, Kensington & Chelsea, and Tandbridge - failed to carry out any inspections at all.

The report also reveals that local authorities are lagging badly behind in completing the required permit reviews. This failure is undermining a key aim of the legislation which is to tighten up on pollution control as technology improves, with regular four-year reviews of the levels of pollution that processes are allowed to emit. Just 56 per cent of the required second round of four year reviews were completed in 2000-2001.

Air pollution from over 18,000 processes across the country is regulated by local authorities. The new figures show that improvement has been limited since the Government published an audit in 1998 - Local Authority Progress in Implementing
the Local Air Pollution Control Regime - which revealed inspection is 'largely ad hoc, unplanned, apparently unstructured', and that '50 per cent of local authorities do not have an inspection policy and do not routinely inspect polluting factories'.

Merlin Hyman, director of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), said, "The picture of air pollution control is getting worse. The failures in this regime damage the environment and the health of the local people, who often live in the most deprived areas where industrial processes are situated. DEFRA must ensure local air pollution control is properly enforced.

"Poorly performing local authorities are in effect undermining companies that respect the local environment as their polluting competitors can gain commercially by not installing the necessary environmental protection. Companies in Leeds should not have not lower standards than those in Oldham."



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