Environmental News In Brief


Air Quality ‘Global Crisis’ | Wildlife Movement under threat | Slow Springtime for the UK

Fears for UK air quality standards following Brexit

With the UK’s Air Quality standards much lower than the legal EU limits, experts speak out following the Brexit result fearing that Air Quality legislation could be dropped even further down our agenda. A recent poll done by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) shows that 48% of experts believe that our Air Quality standards will worsen now that Brexit has taken place. REC’s Principal Air Quality Consultant, Conal Kearney says, “Like so many other topics following the outcome of the UK’s EU referendum the future for air quality legislation in the UK is uncertain at this early stage of developments. The majority of current UK air quality related legislation stems from EU Directives and these have been a driving force in the improvements seen in air quality in the UK. There’s certainly something to be said for a collective approach to air pollution issues given its transboundary nature.  However, much will depend on the terms of the split, should the UK remain part of the European Free Trade Association then EU directives would still apply.  Should the UK decide to go ahead with it’s own legislative framework then this could be lead to anything in between the UK leading the way in innovative and effective ways in tackling air pollution to the UK to once again being seen as “the dirty man of Europe”.  Read more here

7% More investment in energy could halve the impact of air pollution on health

Back in May, new data collected from the World Health Organisation reported that outdoor air pollution had risen by 8% in the last five years. A bigger killer than Malaria and HIV, it’s believed that global air pollution annually contributes to at least 6.5 million deaths across the world. Today, the International Energy Agency announced that this crisis must be tackled by the government and treated as an urgent matter. Recent studies into Air Quality have released some alarming results, with it being linked to increase in mental illness in children and the fourth largest preventable threat to human health. However, the IEA reported this morning that if the government were to increase their investment in energy by just 7%, air pollution impact on health could be halved over the next few decades. Read more about this here

Fears for wildlife movement due to an increase in border fences

Last week, John D. C. Linnell from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research released his findings in the journal, PLOS Biology  into the impact from security borders on wildlife. The dramatic increase in security fencing across international borders in recent years apparently pose a major threat to wildlife, restricting their access to seasonal resources, reducing population size and increasing mortality risk. With borders such as the razor wire fence across the Croatia Slovenian border, wildlife populations are being isolated from their species, resulting in inbreeding and reduction in genetic diversity. Linnell’s report goes on to propose mitigation measures that could help this crisis. Read more here

Last Hope for Mountain Chicken Frog

A joint project between Chester and London Zoo, Durrell, Nordens Ark and the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria has been deemed the ‘last chance’ to save the ‘Mountain Chicken Frog’ from extinction – yes, that is its real name. With no relation to the chicken, the species’ common name is apparently in association with its large size and the use of it as a traditional dish in its home town of the Caribbean island, Dominica. Now, having declined in population by 90% over the last ten years, zoo conservationists have moved particular selected breeding pairs into a man made ‘tropical haven’, hoping that the frogs find love, go forth and multiply.

Signs of Spring slower this year than previously

With lower temperatures on record this April than recent years, the Woodland Trust has reported the onset of spring a lot slower than average this year. Moving slowly north across the UK at the rate of 1.2mph, in comparison to 1.9mph last year, 2016’s spring has been more in line with the springs of Victorian times. The mph rating is measured by  ‘records of frogspawn, swallows, orange tip butterflies, the first leaf on oak and first flowers on hawthorn’, which took four weeks, rather than the three weeks last year. With signs of this year’s spring reported as early as January this year due to a warm December, The Woodland Trust have not been able to establish one clear reason for this slow movement. To find out more about the changes in seasons, go to The Woodland Trust’s Nature Calendar.

AQ Brexit