Labour MEPs question government policy on air quality

NottinghamA local Euro MP is asking if the UK Government’s plans to close up to 600 air quality monitoring stations would breach EU law.

The Government recently proposed closing the stations and removing the requirement for local authorities to monitor air quality, in a drive to cut regulation.

Air with a high level of pollutants is linked to an increased risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer.  This is particularly the case for air containing high levels of nitrogen dioxide, where Leicester and Nottingham are ranked as the worst in the UK.

According to a World Health Organisation report, the long-term health effects of air pollution have been underestimated.

Labour MEP for the East Midlands, Glenis Willmott, and her London colleague, Claude Moraes, have written to the European Commission to ask if the plans would breach the EU’s Air Quality Directive.

Glenis Willmott said: “By removing the requirement for councils to monitor air quality, the Government are burying their heads in the sand.

“We know that high levels of pollutants are linked to serious health problems but the Government’s attitude seems to be that if we don’t know about the problem, we don’t need to do anything about it.

“Meanwhile, my constituents’ health is being put at risk by breathing some of the most polluted air in Europe.”

Claude Moraes said:

“The Government has a bad track record on air pollution. The Supreme Court in May ruled that it was in illegal breach of the pollution limits laid down in the Air Quality Directive.

“Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK, more than deaths from alcohol and obesity combined.

“This news is just more evidence to show the Government is not taking this issue seriously.”

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