New clear air consultation shows government ‘out of ideas’
A new air quality consultation asking for input on new ways to cut air pollution in ‘third-wave’ local authorities’ areas has been criticised by eco experts who says it shows the Government is “out of ideas”.
Opened by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the consultation follows the publication last year of the Government’s latest quality plans as a result of ongoing legal battles with environmental law firm ClientEarth, and a subsequent High Court defeat by ClientEarth over the “unlawful” nature of such plans.
As a result of this defeat, new plans – which would supplement the original document – are due by 5 October outlining measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible and it’s these measures that Defra is now consulting on.
Open from today until 26 June 2018, the consultation asks if there are any other measures – and ways of assessing them – that should be considered in order to help achieve compliance with legal limits for NO2 in the shortest possible time within these areas.
It also asks for input on whether encouraging the use of public transport, cycling, walking, park and ride schemes and/or car clubs would help, as well as measures to optimise traffic flow.
Defra added that any measures could be considered by these local authority areas when developing their studies, which need to be submitted to the Government by 31 July 2018. The Government will consider the results, and publish a supplement to the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations by 5 October 2018.
The latest consultation has been slammed by ClientEarth, which had already criticised last week’s Clean Air Strategy as leaving a “transport-shaped hole” and said the new consultation contains no new ideas to suggest the Government is getting a grip on the problem.
ClientEarth lawyer Katie Nield said: “We’re surprised and disappointed by what has been put out today. Last week, the Government heralded its Clean Air Strategy as the solution to our air pollution problems. That strategy contained very little on road transport, as government claimed this would be taken care of by its Air Quality Plan. The consultation out today is about emissions from road transport but says the Government is not anticipating any ‘significant new evidence’ to help it produce a plan. The Government seems to have run out of ideas.”
Nield added: “This consultation does not fill us with hope for the final plans due out in October. We will be examining them very carefully when they do come out.”