DepartmentÂ says it provides a â€˜huge amountâ€™ of information on air qualityÂ after report raises concerns about awareness at forthcomingÂ Olympics, writes Caelia Quinault
DefraÂ has rejected claims of a â€˜great smog cover-upâ€™ after a report highlighted concerns about air qualityÂ awareness raisingÂ at the forthcoming Olympics.
The report,Â published byÂ the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 on June 19, lists â€˜awareness raising in the event of any Games-time poor air quality episodesâ€™ as one nine important issues still to be resolved in time for the Games.
And, it says that â€˜the main sustainability concern from the transport experience will be air qualityâ€™ and that it hasÂ â€˜expressed concern about the degree to which public health messaging will reach tourists who may not be familiar with Londonâ€™s air quality challenges on days when air quality is poorâ€™.
A particular concern of the Commissionâ€™s is that Londonâ€™s air quality, which is already poor, is at risk of worsening as millions of extra visitors travel to and within the capital.
Commenting on the report, Simon Birkett, founder and director of the Clean Air in London campaign, claimed that not enough was being done to raise awareness about poor air quality in the capital.
He said: â€œThis report packs a knockout punch. The most-respected independent organisation associated with the London 2012 Olympics has revealed clearly the UKâ€™s failure to warn the public during smog episodes.
He added:Â â€œThe simple fact is that the UK authorities donâ€™t want anyone to know London has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas, of any capital city in Europe.
â€œWith the worldâ€™s media starting to arrive for the Games, the great smog â€˜cover-upâ€™ is rightly set to become one of the big issues for London 2012.â€
However, Defra rejected these suggestions, claiming that it provides a â€˜huge amountâ€™ of information on air quality to the public and is always looking to build on this.
A Defra spokesperson told airqualitynews.com: â€œWe already provide a huge amount of information about air quality through the UKAir website, including forecasting and regular updates on air pollution.Â However, we are always looking for ways to make it easier for people to stay informed which is why we recently introduced a new dedicated air quality feed on Twitter.Â People can also sign up to local services like Airtext, which will text and email updates straight to your inbox.â€