It’s a known fact within the UK that we struggle to hit air quality targets, but it comes as shock to discover that we are unlikely to achieve these standards until 2030. This is a staggering 20 years later than the target date set by the EU, and data suggests that London, Leeds and Birmingham still might not reach the targets within this time.
DEFRA in Court
DEFRA, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has been representing the UK Government in court this month defending allegations that they have not done enough to improve air quality within the UK. Client Earth argues that UK tax policies encourage the uptake of diesel cars, which are the principal source of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The government says that it is spending significant amounts of money to clean the air, evidenced by a £1m fund to focus on NO2 specifically, and £900m to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles up to 2020, but clearly their efforts are not considered good enough by some. A decision on this case is expected before the end of this year, with the UK Supreme Court making final judgement in 2015.
Air Quality Targets
If the UK loses and is forced to rapidly comply, then in some areas the only solution might be complete pedestrianisation. One area that would be largely affected is Oxford Street in London, which during peak times is well above the legal limit for NO2 concentrations. Under EU law, the limits set cannot be exceeded more than a handful of times each year, and it is evident that some of the UK’s busier areas are exceeding these limits more often than not. Whilst the UK has seen vast improvements in recent years, it is clear that something more needs to be done.
Air Quality Consultants
REC’s Air Quality expert, Jethro Redmore, said “Poor air quality is an area which the UK needs to address with urgency. Manmade emissions have caused exceedences of European limits in many areas throughout the country. These can have many serious health effects and it is a challenge for the scientific community to identify effective solutions for these issues. “
The REC Air Quality Group provides a complete range air quality services including assessment, monitoring and testing. REC’s dedicated Air Emissions Monitoring and Air Quality Impact Assessment teams work alongside one another to provide the best solutions for all air quality requirements.