Environment minister Richard Benyon defends the governmentâ€™s efforts to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution in UK
Meeting the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution in UK towns and cities is â€œchallengingâ€, according to environment minister Richard Benyon.
In response to a written question put to the minister by Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards yesterday (June 10), Mr Benyon defended the governmentâ€™s efforts to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution in the UK.
Asked by Mr Edwards what progress the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was making towards reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution levels, Mr Benyone said: â€œEvidence suggests that targeted action to accelerate the introduction of cleaner vehicles is the most effective way of reducing nitrogen dioxide levels in our towns and cities.â€
Mr Benyon said that the â€œunderperformance of diesel vehicles against EU emissions standardsâ€ for nitrogen dioxide is a â€œkey part of the problemâ€.
The environment minister then highlighted â€œsignificantâ€ government investment in low emission and hybrid vehicle incentives, as well as initiatives such as the Reduced Pollution Certificates and the Â£100 million Green Bus Fund (see airqualitynews.com story), adding that the government was continuing to â€œexplore these and other measures to achieve further reductions in air pollutionâ€.
Mr Benyon said: â€œWhile the UK is compliant with most EU air quality standards, meeting the limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in cities and towns is challenging. This is a situation shared by most other member states.â€
Mr Edwards also asked the environment minister what conversations he had had with the health secretary and devolved UK authorities about the â€œconsequences to human health of nitrogen dioxide pollutionâ€.
In his reply, Mr Benyon said he and Defra had been involved in â€œextensive discussions to raise awareness of the health effects of air pollutionâ€ with the Department of Health.
With regards to councils, he highlighted the fact that since April 2013, air quality has been included as an indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for local authorities.
Mr Benyon said: â€œDefra, the Department of Health and Public Health England also work together to keep the evidence on the health effects of air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, under review.
â€œDefra works closely with the devolved administrations on our shared air pollution evidence programme and on ensuring that health impacts from air pollution are properly reflected in the EU review of air quality policy.â€