Government’s air quality plans to come under scrutiny from cross-party inquiry
Four Committees are teaming up to scrutinise the government’s air quality plans as new research suggests that air pollution could contribute to dementia and diabetes.
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport Committees have re-launched a joint inquiry to explore if the latest air quality plans go far enough, fast enough to meet legal limits and to deliver the maximum environmental and health benefits. The inquiry will also explore how effectively departments work together across Whitehall to tackle air pollution.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Committee, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence showing the impact of nitrogen dioxide and invisible particulates on human health. Many people are aware of their impact on our lungs and hearts, but new evidence suggests that they could also contribute to diseases a disparate as dementia and diabetes.”
Although the latest air quality plans reiterate a 2011 government statement that sales of “conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans” will end by 2040, set out proposals for ‘clean air zones’ and commit to changes to the vehicle tax regime for new diesel vehicles, the proposals have drawn criticism from leaders from a number of councils across England.
Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “When the leaders of Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton, Oxford, Leicester and Birmingham say that the government’s plans to reduce pollution will not allow them to meet legal pollution limits, it is a cause for concern. Our joint inquiry allows MPs to hold to account Ministers from key departments on how effectively the government is joining up work to clean up the UK’s air.”
The Committee is inviting written submissions on areas including whether there is enough cross-government collaboration and if there are other nations or cities that the UK can learn from.