EFRA Committee of MPs to examine government’s air pollution work as it consults on a new UK plan to meet NO2 limits
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee of MPs –which scrutinises the work of the Defra – has launched an inquiry into the Department’s role in tackling air quality in the UK.
According to the EFRA Committee, the Department has a “vital role in ensuring that all individuals in the UK can breathe clean airâ€? as well as having a wider role in “tackling the harmful levels of many other pollutants emitted by the transport, energy and industrial sectors as well as from households and farmingâ€?.
Defra is currently consulting with the public on its draft plan to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits across the UK, ahead of a deadline to submit the final plan to the European Commission by the end of 2015. The consultation launched in September and closes on November 6 2015 (see AirQualityNews.com story).
And, part of the EFRA inquiry launched yesterday (October 22) will focus on this draft air quality plan, with submissions of evidence to the Committee sought on whether Defra’s proposals for reducing key pollutants, including NO2, “go far enough and fast enough to meet EU standardsâ€?.
EFRA is also asking for submissions on how effectively Defra collaborates with and co-ordinates action with “local authorities, devolved administrations, and other government departments to develop coherent strategies for reducing emissions of key air pollutantsâ€?, as well as whether Defra’s plans “correctly identify and support the role of local authorities in reducing air pollutionâ€?.
Additionally, EFRA is seeking public views on whether Defra and/or other central government departments need to intervene more directly “via regulatory or fiscal incentives to reduce emissions from transport or energy use for exampleâ€?.
Another areas of interest for the inquiry is transport pollution, with EFRA calling for information on incentives for reducing vehicle emissions and the disparity between real world and laboratory tests/ Specifically, the inquiry asks whether these disparities mean that Defra “should remodel the assumptions behind its plans to meet EU requirementsâ€?.
The inquiry will also look at whether regulation of industrial and agricultural emissions are robust and ambitious enough, with a deadline for written submissions of noon on Monday November 23 2015 via the EFRA Committee website.
Announcing the inquiry, EFRA Committee chair Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “Air-borne pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulates and sulphur dioxide damage people’s health and the UK’s environment. But the UK is failing to meet EU air pollution limits.
“Defra has to set out by the end of the year its plans for ensuring that the UK will comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits. We will explore how effectively the Department’s plans, including for Clean Air Zones, will reduce this key pollutant. But we also want to explore how well Defra is leading action to tackle air pollution more widely, whether from the transport, industry or farming sectors.â€?
Meanwhile, the Environmental Audit Committee is also currently investigating issues surrounding vehicle emissions following carmaker Volkswagen’s admission that it manipulated emissions tests for some of its diesel car models (see AirQualityNews.com story), which follows its previous inquiry into UK air quality last year (see AirQualityNews.com story).