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Select committee to scrutinise government approach to air quality

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee has today (12 June) launched a new inquiry into Air Quality. 

Concerns have already been raised about whether discouraging the use of public transport will lead to more cars on the road and levels of air pollution exceeding pre-lockdown levels.

To look at this issue and to see what can be done to keep pollution to lockdown-levels, the EFRA will scrutinise the government’s 2019 Clean Air Strategy and Environment Bill.

The Committee will also address the delay in the rollout of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) as a result of the pandemic and will look at what some towns and cities’ are planning to do to enable more people to walk and cycle as the lockdown is eased. 

The committee is seeking written evidence on whether the governments 2019 air quality strategy set out an effective plan, as well as any early evidence on the link between the impact of poor air quality on health and COVID-19.

Chair of the EFRA committee, MP Neil Parish said: ‘In the UK, there are roughly 40,000 early deaths each year linked to outdoor air pollution. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, this issue was vastly overlooked.

‘It has now been two years since we called on the Government to urgently address this crisis. Since then, we’ve seen the introduction of a new Clean Air Strategy and Environment Bill, but it’s crucial that these frameworks are both enforceable and ambitious.

‘Disadvantaged communities are affected far worse by air pollution than anyone else and recently we’ve seen just how serious underlying health problems can be.

‘The pandemic is threatening to push back some of the crucial work planned for addressing poor air quality when it is clear that it should instead be a once-in-a-lifetime catalyst for action.

‘Therefore we are launching a new inquiry into air quality. As we are encouraged to walk and cycle more in the ‘new normal’ we have a rare opportunity to build policies which decrease air pollution, save the NHS billions, and benefit everyone.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay 

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