Campaign group Clean Air Londonâ€™s Simon Birkett criticises Defraâ€™s recent proposals to reduce the the number of air quality statistical releases
Clean Air Londonâ€™s Simon Birkett has criticised the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) for its plans to streamline annual statistical releases on air quality.
Responding to the proposals on behalf of his campaign organisation Clean Air London on Friday (23 Nov), Birkett criticised Defra for â€œsystematically hiding important information about air pollution in London and elsewhereâ€.
Each year Defra currently releases provisional (2 February) and final (26 April) â€˜Air quality statistics in the UKâ€™ reports for the previous calendar year, as well as a summary of the data submitted to the European Commission for the previous calendar year on 28 September entitled â€˜Air pollution in the UKâ€™.
The department also annually releases statistical information on emissions and sources of air pollution on 15 December and 14 February for the previous calendar year.
However, Defra is proposing to streamline these statistical releases on air quality in order to â€œprovide a more coherent service to usersâ€ and opened an informal consultation on the issue which ended on Friday (23 Nov).
These proposals include reducing the number of pollutants included in the national statistical releases, scrapping February releases for the previous calendar year and scrapping the December emissions release.
In response to Defraâ€™s proposals, Birkett criticised Defraâ€™s two-week informal consultation period for being too short and undermining the importance of the issue: â€œClean Air London (CAL) objects strongly to this important consultation being held â€˜informallyâ€™ with just two weeks to comment.â€
Birkett stated: â€œCAL recommends that the current system of main and supplementary releases should remain intact.â€
He added: â€œCAL disagrees strongly with the proposal to â€˜rationalise the existing publications on emissions of air pollutants in order to focus on the key pollutants of public interest [as judged by the Government]â€™ (page 3). The purpose of a statistical release should be to clearly and accessibly present the full range of data, therefore allowing the public and NGOs to make up their minds as to where their own interests lie.â€