Defra Air Quality Consultation – Please Comment

Announced on the same day as the Corbyn result, a consultation on Defra’s proposals for addressing air pollution. The plans do not appear impressive, with a pretty damning summary at Clean Air London http://cleanair.london/sources/defra-buries-consultation-on-diesel-ban-in-cities-minutes-before-corbyn-announcement/.

Clean Air London notes that:

  • The document offers first national estimate of 23,500 deaths attributable to NO2 in the UK
  • It promises further consultation in ‘early 2016’ on a ‘four tier’ national framework to ban or charge pre-Euro 6 diesel vehicles entering ‘Clean Air Zones’ in at least eight UK cities by 2020
  • But it passes all responsibility, without money or new powers, to local authorities (section 4.3.6 from page 32);
  • 80% of NO2 legal breaches are due to road transport.
  • There has been no ‘clear’ change in NO2 concentrations at eight long-running urban traffic sites since 2002.
  • Defra is flouting the Supreme Court ruling to submit proper plans to the European Commission by 31 December 2015. Instead it offers to submit a ‘plan for plans by others’. This is what it did when it applied unsuccessfully to the European Commission for a time extension to comply with NO2 limit values in September 2011;
  • It is making little or no effort to comply with NO2 limit values in at least 28 UK zones before 2020, seven more before 2025 and London before 2030 unless others choose to adopt its ‘plan for a plan’ of ‘Clean Air Zones’.
  • It does not appear to understand that limit values must be achieved everywhere, including with any development at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and for HS2. Apparently the confusion is because Defra wrongly suggests that developments can proceed unless: “the air quality impacts of a scheme [after taking account of mitigation] will result in a currently compliant zone or agglomeration becoming non-compliant; or affect the ability of a non-compliant area to achieve compliance within the most recent timescales reported to the European Commission at the time of the decision”.

The consultation is at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/draft-aq-plans/consultation/subpage.2015-09-04.3216899984/view. Please do comment and get all your contacts to do the same. It’s not clear whether it’s the politicians or civil servants who are behind this ridiculous approach, but they need to be told to scrap this and come up with proposals to improve air quality, not leave it as it is.

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