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More effective EU vehicle emission standards ‘a priority

Environment Minister Richard Benyon says review of EU air quality policy must ensure future standards are more successful than previous ones

Future European vehicle emission standards must be ‘more effective’ than their predecessors if they are to deliver necessary improvements in air quality, according to Environment Minister Richard Benyon.

The comments came after the Minister was questioned by Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith about his view on the current review of EU air quality policies, which is being undertaken by the European Commission.

Mr Benyon said future vehicle emissions standards need to be more effective

In response, My Benyon said that one of the UK’s main priorities would be to ensure the review delivers effective standards for reducing emissions of oxides and nitrogen from vehicles. Defra has previously said that emissions from road transport are the main cause of air pollution.

Mr Benyon said: “A key priority for the UK will be to ensure that future EU vehicle emission standards are more effective than their predecessors in delivering the expected emission reductions for oxides of nitrogen. The Review, and any subsequent proposals for revisions to the legal framework, will need to reflect available and emerging evidence on real world performance of diesel road vehicles.”

At present, European member states are governed by the Ambient Air Quality Directive, which was introduced in 2008. The Directive sets legally binding limits for concentrations in outdoor air of major air pollutants that impact public health, including: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM10). It was transposed into English law through the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010, with equivalent regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In 2011, the Commission began a review of EU air quality policy which is due to finalised in 2013.

Improvement

Mr Benyon said the UK welcomes the Commission’s review of the Directive as he said that more needs to be done if air quality is going to improve further. He said: “The UK welcomes the European Commission’s Review of EU air quality policy, which is due to conclude in autumn 2013. Air quality has improved significantly over recent decades, but more needs to be done to reduce the damage air pollution causes to human health and ecosystems.

“The Review is an opportunity to look again at the framework in light of the current air quality challenges, and ensure it is coherent with our wider objectives, including better regulation, climate change and economic growth.”

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