UK trade association challenges new Air Quality Strategy

Tackling air pollution on a local level is "crucial" if the UK wants to meet national air quality objectives set out by government, say the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC).

The trade association – which serves the UK environmental technology and services industry – says that the new version of the Government’s Air Quality Strategy does not fully address local measures aimed at cutting harmful emission from the transport sector, specifically regulating “super polluters” including lorries, coaches and buses by ensuring their standards are complementary to national policies.

Mike Galey, chairman of the EIC’s Transport Working Group said: “Road transport is one of the most serious and growing sources of air pollution and a targeted, local programme of retrofitting pollution control technology to the most polluting vehicles can make a valuable contribution to meeting the UK’s national air quality objectives and to improving public health.

“The London Low Emission Zone is a good example of a scheme aimed at improving air quality. The Government must support other cities to introduce similar schemes.”

The revised Air Quality Strategy was presented to Parliament in mid-July, updating the last version which has been in place since 2003.

The strategy – an environmental study covering all of the UK – contains policies for improving air quality and aims to set standards and objectives for the main pollutants of concern to be met between 2003-2010 and beyond.

A statement published by Jonathan Shaw, the Minister for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs and Minister for the South East says:

“The quality of our air in the United Kingdom has improved considerably over the last few decades, and much has been achieved through implementation of tighter controls over emissions of harmful pollutants from industry, transport and domestic sectors.

But air pollution still has a significant impact and is estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of 7-8 months, with estimated annual health costs of up to £20 billion. It can also seriously damage our ecosystems.”

In addition to tackling and planning on air quality issues, Jonathan Shaw’s statement said that the Strategy will build on measures and work towards new actions to address improving air quality in the UK.

Dana Gornitzki

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