Ministers concede more action is needed on air quality

Government ministers have conceded that more action is needed to address air quality issues in the UK, in response to a call for action from a committee of MPs.

l-r: John Hayes and Therese Coffey were questioned on the government's new Air Quality Plan

l-r: John Hayes and Therese Coffey were questioned on the government’s new Air Quality Plan

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister, Therese Coffey, and John Hayes, Department for Transport minister made the concession in a letter to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra ) last week, which was published by the Committee yesterday (12 January).

This came after the Efra Committee chairman Neil Parish had written to the ministers demanding action on air quality following a ‘disappointing’ hearing on the issue in the House of Commons (see AirQualityNews.com story).

In their response, the ministers said that they “are acutely aware that more needs to be done to address current poor air quality” but assured the issue is a “top priority.”

The ministers said that the “most immediate challenge is to tackle local pollution hot-spots caused by vehicle emissions” and that they are developing a revised national plan for reducing local concentrations of air pollutants.

Last year, the government’s Air Quality Plan was quashed for the second time in 18 months in a court case brought by environmental law firm ClientEarth, after its emissions modelling was found to be ‘too optimistic’ (see AirQualityNews.com story)

At the air quality hearing last month, Mr Hayes described the court case as “a wake-up call.”

The government has said it will consult on a revised plan by 24 April and have a final plan in place by the end of July 2017.

The letter also noted that the UK, along with the rest of Europe, “has shown international leadership on reducing air pollution” by committing to binding targets by 2020 and 2030. The ministers said this legislation will be incorporated into UK legislation by the end of 2018.