Healthy Air Campaign consultation response: Draft plans to improve air quality in the UK – tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities

7th November 2015

Healthy Air Campaign consultation response: Draft plans to improve air quality in the UK – tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities.

The Healthy Air Campaign is a broad coalition of health, transport and environmental organisations that support the need for urgent action to improve air quality. This is a joint response representing shared concerns about the proposals contained in this consultation. Individual partners will make separate and detailed responses where appropriate.

Air pollution is an invisible public health crisis, contributing to the equivalent of tens of thousands of early deaths each year across the UK and reducing the quality of life for many more, in particular for children, older people and people made vulnerable by some chronic health conditions and is an inequality issue. It also has a damaging effect on ecosystems and wildlife. Taking action on air pollution will not only deliver numerous health and wellbeing benefits but can form part of a holistic strategy to tackle climate change due to the strong co-benefits for each from tackling the other.

The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP) has previously found that long-term exposure to particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) causes the equivalent of 29,000 early deaths across the UK each year. (1) COMEAP is now quantifying the health impacts from NO2 but preliminary estimates suggest that it is causing the equivalent of 23,500 early deaths each year across the UK. (2) This highlights air pollution as the single biggest health risk after smoking in the UK. We welcome the fact that the UK Government has released these initial estimates. We hope that the UK Government prioritises the completion of the final COMEAP study and disseminates the findings as soon as possible.

We are, however, very concerned that other evidence and technical data for the draft plans has not been released. This makes it very difficult to assess, for example, the assumptions behind the new revised projections for compliance and the ability of the plans to deliver compliance with legal limits. The draft Technical Report that will have been produced as part of the process of revising the projections for compliance should have been released as part of the consultation. We call on Defra to explain why it was not.

Full Healthy Air response is available here (pdf).

Joint response by partners of the Healthy Air Campaign:
* Asthma UK
* British Heart Foundation
* British Lung Foundation
* Campaign for Better Transport
* Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
* Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
* Clean Air in London
* ClientEarth
* CTC
* Environmental Protection UK
* Friends of the Earth
* Greenpeace UK
* Living Streets
* London Cycling Campaign
* London Sustainability Exchange
* Sustrans
* UK Health Forum

For further information about this response please contact:
Andrea Lee
Healthy Air campaigner
ClientEarth
02077495979
healthyair@clientearth.org

 

Sources

(1) COMEAP, 2010, ”The mortality effects of long-term exposure to particulate air pollution in the United Kingdom: A report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants”

(2) Defra, September 2015, “Draft plans to improve air quality in the UK: Tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities. UK overview document”