AEF discussion paper on what – on air pollution – needs to be in UK’s forthcoming “Aviation Strategy”



AEF releases air quality recommendations ahead of aviation strategy consultation

In the last of our series of discussion papers on the key environmental questions we want to see addressed by the new Aviation Strategy, AEF sets out the air quality challenges posed by UK aviation. As the UK prepares its post-Brexit Environment Act, we consider the gap between currently legislated limit values for air pollution and the evidence on health impacts, what this could mean for aviation, and how both information and regulation should be improved.

The UK Aviation Strategy is due out for consultation by the end of this year, with a White Paper planned for next summer. The air quality policy should, we argue:

  • Clarify how airport planning decisions will help deliver air quality commitments,
  • Close the current information gaps with respect to air pollution from aviation, by
    • Setting out the evidence base in relation to aircraft air pollution outside the landing and take-off cycle,
    • Providing (a) updated mapping of air pollution levels around UK airports with respect to legal limit values and WHO recommended maximum levels for pollutant concentrations; and (b) an assessment of how any increase in aircraft emissions or airport-related emissions affects National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD) limit values, and
    • Setting out what approach individuals concerned about air pollution near their airport should take, and
  • Ensure the UK supports the setting of effective technology standards by assessing whether the current international standards are tough enough.

AEF has previously published discussion papers on noise and on climate change, by way of input to the draft strategy. Our latest paper can be viewed here


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National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD)

Air pollution travels over long distances, affects human health, degrades buildings and other man-made structures and adversely affects the natural environment through acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone.  The European Community agreed to set emission ceilings through the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) to protect its citizens, its man-made structures and its diverse environments.  The revised NECD (2016/2284/EU), which entered into force on 31 December 2016, sets new emission reduction commitments for each Member State for the total emissions of NOx, SOx, NMVOC, NH3 and PM2.5 in 2020 and 2030. The new Directive repeals and replaces Directive 2001/81/EC to ensure that the emission ceilings for 2010 set in that Directive shall continue to apply until 2020.  Member States have to report their emission inventories annually to the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission in order to monitor progress and verify compliance.  The reporting requirement is closely aligned with those for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), which include a common scope of reporting of pollutant inventories and similar reporting timeframe.  Under the revised NECD, each Member State is required to publish by April 2019 a National Air Pollution Control Programme, setting out the measures it will put in place to reduce emissions to meet the 2020 and 2030 emission reduction commitments.