Secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey says new EU legislation on air quality objectives is â€œnot necessarily the answerâ€
Secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey has dismissed Belgian calls for new EU legislation to help meet air quality objectives as â€œnot necessarily the answerâ€, despite the UK failing to meet many recent targets.
Mr Davey did not go into detail, but in Mondayâ€™s statement to the House of Commons reporting on the EU Environment Council held in Luxembourg last month, he said more effort was needed to make sure existing legislation was used effectively.
The Belgian delegationâ€™s statement submitted to council delegates on October 15, however, called for the European Commission to deliver new legislation in line with the EUâ€™s â€œambitious and legitimateâ€ Sixth Environment Action Programme and the Thematic Strategy on Air.
â€œAny delay impacting on our commitments would penalise the actors, who would have to take urgent or non-harmonised measures in order to provide the indispensable high level of environmental and health protection,â€ said the Belgian statement.
But Mr Daveyâ€™s statement on Monday (19 Nov) dismissed the idea of new laws: â€œOn EU legislation for meeting environmental objectivesâ€”the example of air quality, the UK highlighted that new legislation was not necessarily the answer, a greater focus was needed on ensuring that current legislation was delivered.â€
The UK governmentâ€™s commitment to delivering on air quality objectives has come in for criticism in the past, and in June the European Commission rejected the UKâ€™s postponement of the deadline to meet the air quality target inÂ 12 zonesÂ (see airqualitynews.com story).
A High Court ruling In December 2011 also Â forced the government to concede that the UK was above the legal pollution limit set by the European Union, after which campaign group ClientEarth attempted to force the government to produce a new air quality strategy.
However, in May the High Court ruled that action to force the government to submit a new strategy for improving air quality would have to be carried out by the European Commission.
Mr Daveyâ€™s statement follows EU environment commissioner Janez PotoÄnikâ€™s recently launched comprehensive review of the EU air legislation and declaration of 2013 as the European â€˜Year of Airâ€™.