Government plans to delay air pollution improvements in 12 UK areas have been refused by the European Commission, which says air quality must improve.
The UK may now face fines if it fails to improve air quality quickly.
Air pollution is recognised by the Government as a major public health threat: “Air pollution is currently estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of 7-8 months” according to the ‘Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 2007. (Air pollution levels have fallen only slightly since 2007.)
The most significant breaches of EU and UK standards are in London. See article by CCAL (Campaign for Clean Air in London).
Heathrow is a significant contributor to London’s air pollution problem and was central in arguments about a third runway at Heathrow.
The BBC, Sunday Times and Justine Greening (who was later made Minister for Transport) uncovered evidence of collusion between BAA and the Government to change the forecasts of air pollution so that a third runway would not appear to breach EU limits, set to protect human health. See earlier article.