Environmental Protection UK

Environmental Protection UK

Minister backs healthy air campaign but makes no commitment to new action

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Source: Environmental Protection UK

Appearing before the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee Inquiry into air pollution Defra Minister Lord Henley told those present that air pollution had a 'major impact on a large number of people's lives', and that there were a 'lot of deaths that are happening earlier than would otherwise be the case'.

While the Minister backed the Healthy Air Campaign, launched yesterday, and thanked Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) for setting it up, Lord Henley refused to commit Government money to raising public awareness of the issues around poor air quality.

The Minister and officials also admitted that the UK was unlikely to meet EU air quality targets at the same time as promising no new action on air pollution. Asked why Defra, the lead government department with responsibility for air quality, made no reference to it in its business plan, Lord Henley replied that the business plan was 'necessarily limited' and could only focus on 'certain things.'

James Grugeon, CEO of Environmental Protection UK, said that the Minister's support for the campaign was welcome but he was disappointed that the Minister had made no commitment to any new action to tackle air pollution and its impact on public health.

'The Healthy Air campaign was disappointed that the government has refused to commit funding to raise awareness of what is already a public health crisis' he said.

'The omission of air pollution from Defra's business plan could suggest it is not even a priority for the government department that is supposed to be leading action on it.'

'The Healthy Air Campaign is calling for a true cross-Government strategy for air quality led by the Cabinet Office, with engagement from the Department for Transport, the Department of Health and the Department of Communities and Local Government all cooperating to tackle this invisible killer' he added.

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