Air Pollution: Greater London

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th April 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Mayor of London's compliance with the requirement to issue pollution alerts.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The legal requirement to issue pollution alerts rests with the Secretary of State (under regulation 21 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010) rather than the Mayor of London. The Secretary of State has a duty to inform the public by means of radio, television, newspapers or the internet if information thresholds for sulphur dioxide nitrogen dioxide and ozone (as set out in schedule 5 to the regulations) are exceeded. The Secretary of State provides online information to the public on current and forecasted air quality at: at all times, and this meets the requirements of this duty. In addition, a freephone service is available.

DEFRA has also undertaken to issue a press release when the first ozone episode occurs each year. This is to draw attention to the online information services available and remind the public of where to find more details. The decision on whether to issue a press notice is reviewed each year.

In addition to this, the Mayor of London has voluntarily promoted a pioneering new airTEXT service whereby people living in London can get free text, email or voicemail alerts of elevated levels about air pollution.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes3 people think so

No4 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.


Simon Birkett
Posted on 13 May 2012 5:02 pm (Report this annotation)

Dear Ben

The Government says it wants to build public understanding of the dangers of air pollution but it is not true.

For example, Defra told the Environmental Audit Committee:

"The Government strongly supports and welcomes campaigns to improve understanding of the public health impact of air pollution at local level and agrees that better public awareness is vital."

However, if the Government wanted to warn people and/or build public understanding it would start by issuing smog alerts when lives could be saved and encouraging others such as the Mayor of London to do so.

Instead, it is clear the Government wants to keep air pollution out of the public eye while it negotiates to weaken UK and international air pollution laws.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

Simon Birkett
Founder and Director
Clean Air in London