TramForward disappointed that Government delays action on air quality
TramForward is disappointed that cross-party attempts to set binding air quality targets for PM2.5 particulates were defeated in the House of Commons at the Report Stage of the Environment Bill on 26 January.
The Government’s 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.”
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.
The two amendments put forward by the Conservative Chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (Neil Parish MP) and Shadow Labour Environment Minister (Luke Pollard MP) sought to ensure that WHO air quality guidelines of 10μg/m3 of PM2.5 were met by 2030.
Despite several members referring to figures that suggest up to 40 000 people a year die in the UK each year due to poor air quality, and the recent coroner’s verdict on the death of nine-year-old Londoner Ella Kissi-Debrah due to poor air quality, Ministers claimed that more time was needed to set air quality standards.
The Government also decided that further discussion will not now take place until May, meaning the Bill is unlikely to become law before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in September.
LRTA Chair Paul Rowen, a former MP, said: “These defeats and delays are unacceptable. It is time that government actions matched their rhetoric. All those with an interest in the environment should lobby their MPs.” For more information, visit www.lrta.org.