Part of the debate – in the House of Lords on 9th October 2007.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Is he aware of the Campaign for Clean Air in London and the fact that its one aim is to achieve at least the minimum World Health Organisation recommended standard for air in London? Is he aware that central London has the most polluted air in Britain, and that the whole of London is really in a bad way? Something should be done before the Olympics.
Posted on 11 Oct 2007 4:25 am (Report this annotation)
To London and EP Environment Committee MEPs, Mayor Livingstone (and the other Mayoral candidates) and the Secretary of State for Defra
The Campaign for Clean Air in London wishes to thank most sincerely all those who supported its recommendations in the vote taken on Tuesday 9 October by the European Parliament's Environment Committee in connection with the current draft of the new Air Quality Directive.
"We welcome the recognition by the European Parliament's Environment Committee that much tighter limits are needed to protect citizens from the serious health impact of air pollution. It was disappointing to see the Environment Committee voting to extend deadlines but we were shocked particularly that the Committee should have voted to put totally unnecessary hurdles in the way of Member States taking action to reduce air pollution. We urge the Council of Ministers and the Plenary of the European Parliament to reject firmly any such hurdles or delays" said Simon Birkett of the Campaign for Clean Air in London.
The formal considered recommendation of the Campaign of the Campaign for Clean Air in London is now that, unless three serious flaws are removed in full from the proposed new Air Quality Directive, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in its Plenary session should reject outright the entire proposed new Air Quality Directive and allow Europe's citizens to rely instead on the urgent and strict enforcement by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice of the current muddled regime of some five Air Quality related Directives.
The Campaign for Clean Air in London considers that the "bottom line" for progressing the proposed new Air Quality Directive into legislation is that:
1. it must impose no "burden of proof" obligations on Member States that might make it more difficult in any way for local or national authorities to take action to improve air quality either now or in the future;
2. it is essential that the Limit Values apply everywhere. Otherwise, for example, there could be a "free ride" for airports or ports to ignore these necessary health based standards; and
3. There must be no possibility of "two stage" time extensions from meeting current EU Air Quality Limit Values which might have the effect of making the first stage of the time extension ineffective.
Unless these three "red lines" are met, we urge all concerned to reject the proposed new Air Quality Directive in its entirety. We make this recommendation with considerable sadness (but resolve) since the proposed new Directive would keep current Limit Values unchanged and would address PM2.5 directly which is much needed. However, in our view, these benefits would be far outweighed by the disastrous implications of inaction, loopholes and fudge that the compromise position of the Environment Committee would imply. The fact that the majority in the Environment Committee vote was so small shows that many others agree with the substance of our recommendations.
In a separate but closely related matter, whilst the Campaign for Clean Air in London was pleased to see that the UK Government has finally admitted publicly that the UK was in breach of the European Union's Air Quality Limit Values for both sulphur dioxide and particulate matter in both 2005 and 2006 - see link below
- it was most disappointing that The Lord Rooker did not answer Baroness Gardner's repeated request in the House of Lord's on 9 October to state unambiguously when these Limit Values would be met finally. We find this obscuration and lack of accountability on the Government's part totally unacceptable and so are submitting formally a Freedom of Information request asking for any forecasts that Defra has made or received as to when these Limit Values might be met throughout the UK.
We note also that The Lord Rooker agreed that Air Quality Limit Values must be met throughout London by 2012 and reject the complacency implied by comparisons with air quality many years ago - when many more people currently die prematurely in London alone per annum than did annually in the whole of the UK from passive workplace related smoking before the latest legislation came into force.
We reiterate again our thanks to our supporters in all political parties and urge all MEPs and the Council of Ministers to insist on the three "red lines" if the new Air Quality Directive is to be progressed into legislation.
Please contact the undersigned if you have any questions.
With best wishes.
Campaign for Clean Air in London