MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have revealed their frustration with the Government’s attitude to dealing with the UK’s air quality. The Chair of the committee said the Government’s response to their report set out few policy changes which is likely to result in the UK failing to meet EU targets.
Joan Walley MP said: “I am disappointed in the Government’s response to our report on the UK’s poor air quality. The Government response seems to indicate that Ministers would prefer to push back EU air quality safety deadlines – rather than take rapid action to improve the air quality on our busiest streets.”
Whitehall refuted the claims: “The Government does not accept the Committee’s view that it has failed to get to grips with the issue of air pollution. The Government has made a commitment to work towards full compliance with EU air quality standards and these, together with the significant public health and environmental benefits are the central drivers for policy in this area.”
Back in November Parliament’s green watchdog said that the Government was “putting thousands of lives at risk” by trying to water down EU air quality rules instead of prioritising action to cut pollution on UK roads. They claimed that in 2008 there were 30,000 deaths in the UK linked to air pollution.
Mrs Walley questioned the Government’s substance as it claims it has made “significant commitments” to improving air quality: “It insists that improving air quality is a priority, but Ministers still won’t make a clear commitment to including it in Defra’s departmental business plan.”