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Committees re-launch joint air quality probe

Four cross-part parliamentary committees have reopened a joint inquiry into steps being taken by government to improve air quality, which will look in depth at the UK air quality plan.

The inquiry is being led by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport Committees, which had originally opened a joint inquiry into air quality prior to the General Election.

MPs from four cross-party committees will examine the UK’s plans for improving air quality

Since the election the government has published a final version of its air quality plan, which details its approach to reducing nitrogen dioxide levels in over 20 towns and cities in the UK.

The cross-party inquiry will examine whether this new plan goes far enough, fast enough to both meet legal limits and to deliver the maximum environmental and health benefits.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health Committee, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence showing the impact of nitrogen dioxide and invisible particulates on human health. Many people are aware of their impact on our lungs and hearts, but new evidence suggests that they could also contribute to diseases a disparate as dementia and diabetes.”

With several government departments having a role in managing air pollution, the inquiry will explore how effectively departments work together across Whitehall to tackle air pollution.

Scrutiny

Mary Creagh, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “The government are on their third attempt to meet legal air quality standards. Local authorities have said the government’s plan for air pollution does not go far enough to help the millions of people living with illegally high levels of air pollution today. Ministers will now face unprecedented scrutiny in Parliament to ensure they are doing everything necessary to protect people from filthy air.”

The Committees are seeking written evidence by Thursday 9 November on whether the government’s policy proposals effectively take into account the health and environmental impacts of poor air quality, and whether the plan sets out ‘effective and proportionate’ measures to achieve necessary emissions reductions as quickly as possible.

Stakeholders have also been asked to detail if they believe other nations or cities taking more effective action that the UK.

Written evidence should be submitted through the Improving Air Quality inquiry web page.

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