Act now for Clean Air
The UK Government introduced its long- awaited Environment Bill in February, replacing existing EU legislation and claimed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as an opportunity to demonstrate the UK has adopted tougher policies than the EU.
However, we are disappointed that the Bill contains no legally-binding targets to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution standards by 2030. This is despite the July 2019 Government report Assessing progress towards WHO guidelines levels of PM2.5 in the UK, which stated: “It would be technically feasible to meet the WHO guideline level for PM2.5 across the UK in the future.”
What are the WHO recommended levels?
The World Health Organisation guideline levels of PM2.5 are 10μg/m³ as an annual mean threshold by 2030. At the moment only the Scottish Government has adopted these guidelines.
Client Earth, the environmental law charity that has in the past instigated judicial reviews against the UK Government for its failure to meet binding EU air quality targets, has estimated that 83% of reporting air zones in the UK have air pollution levels that breach legal limits. So far the UK Government has resisted calls to make WHO guidelines legally binding.
TramFoward believes this is a retrograde step and is pushing for WHO guidelines to be incorporated into the bill.
LRTA Chair Paul Rowen explained: “There is still an opportunity for the UK to take an environmental lead on Clean Air , that’s why we have tabled a petition on the Parliament website and drafted a letter to send to MPs. Light rail can play a huge role in helping the UK meet clean air targets.
The Petition says:
‘Action on Non Exhaust Emissions
The government should adopt as legally binding the World Health Organisation guideline levels for PM2.5 of 10µg/m³ as an annual mean threshold by 2030.
The Environment Bill must include legislation on non-exhaust emissions – these are particles from tyres, the road surface and plasticisers. Also known as PM2.5, the major source of these invisible microparticulate pollution are buses and lorries. Environmentally friendly and sustainable transport solutions must be found for our busy towns and cities which should include light rail systems. Parliament should recognise and support in law efforts to clean up the air in our towns and cities. This should include the provision of a new local transport infrastructure fund to enable transport authorities to develop sustainable clean alternatives including light rail.’
You will find the link to the petition below when it has been approved by the Petitions Moderator at UK Government and Parliament.
Additionally there are links for the draft letter to your MP and a Greener UK report on the Environment Bill below.