12 areas in UK refused reprieve on air quality standard by EU (not Heathrow)

Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 UK areas have been refused by the European Commission, which says air quality must improve. The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly. Government figures show air pollution reduces life expectancy by up to 8 months, mainly from lung problems. The pollution mainly comes from road vehicle, and around airports, a large proportion of the air pollution comes from the roads.  A judgement will be made at a later date on government plans to delay meeting NO2 standards in major cities until 2020 – or in the case of London, 2025. London has the worst air of any European capital, and the UK is likely to be fined over the failure.

 

27 June 2012

Europe refuses UK air pollution reprieve

By Roger Harrabin (BBC Environment analyst)

Air pollution costs the UK an estimated £20bn a year

Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 UK areas have been refused by the European Commission, which says air quality must improve.

The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly.

Air pollution reduces average life expectancy in the UK by up to eight months, according to the government’s own statistics.

But ministers have been slow to meet agree European standards on cutting levels of the pollutant NO2.

This comes mainly from vehicles. It causes problems with breathing – particularly for people with heart or lung problems.

The UK has been denied permission by the commission to delay air quality improvements in 12 areas – Aberdeen and north-east Scotland; Belfast; Birkenhead; Brighton; Bristol; Liverpool; Preston; Sheffield; south-west England; south Wales; Swansea and Tyneside.

Second-biggest threat

A judgement will be made at a later date on government plans to delay meeting NO2 standards in major cities until 2020 – or in the case of London, 2025.

London has the worst air of any European capital, and the UK is likely to be fined over the failure.

Air pollution is recognised by the government as the second-biggest public health threat, after smoking. It costs the UK an estimated £20bn a year – that’s more than twice the amount estimated for obesity, which gets far more publicity.

Daniel Instone, giving evidence on behalf of Defra, said ministers were considering a nationwide network of low-emission zones in which the most polluting vehicles were banned.

Simon Birkett, a campaigner from Clean Air in London, said the commission’s ruling suggested that such a network would now be inevitable.

NO2 pollution affects long-term health. Experts giving evidence to the Environment Committee, EFRA, said the health of Olympic athletes visiting over the summer should not be harmed as long as the UK avoids a heat-induced smog episode.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18617815

 


 

Environmental Audit Committee publishes report on air quality, and says a 3rd runway at Heathrow would be impossible

 

The EAC’s report says Ministers appear to be actively trying to dilute air quality safety standards to avoid EU fines. Business plans produced by the DfT and Defra do not even mention air quality. It says EU air quality limits for NO2 are not met at Heathrow and the surrounding area the forthcoming Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation and the forthcoming Aviation National Policy Statement must contain an explicit prohibition of a 3rd Heathrow runway.

14 November 2011
http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4693
The report mentions aviation, and Heathrow in particular. See below. Report
is at 
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenvaud/1024/102405.htm

 

 

 


 

see also

 

Diesel emissions cause cancer

 June 20, 2012

(Transport & Environment)
The World Health Organisation says exposure to exhaust emissions from diesel engines definitely increases the possibility of tumours. The WHO has previously said diesel exhausts were ‘probably’ carcinogenic, but now a WHO body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, says it is definitely a cause of lung and possibly of bladder tumours.
The revision of WHO guidelines follows research carried out on workers exposed to high concentrations of diesel fumes, who were found to have a 40% greater chance of developing lung cancer than those exposed to normal concentrations. The agency is advising people to keep away from high concentrations, but the findings will also aid efforts to reduce sulphur in diesel fuel.