New inquiry: EAC to examine action on air pollution

02 May 2014

The Environmental Audit Committee is today launching an inquiry to assess Action on Air Quality since it warned about the urgency of the problem in reports during 2010 and 2011.

The new inquiry will aim to identify the state of progress on the recommendations from its 2011 report on Air Quality which focussed on a need for action in six areas: 

  1. the priority and targets on air quality in Defra’s planning 
  2.  strategy and inter-departmental co-ordination, including on transport and planning matters, 
  3. support for local authorities in tackling air pollution, and how any European Commission fines might fall on them, 
  4. the implications of local authorities’ enhanced responsibilities for public health, 
  5. Low Emissions Zones and vehicle emissions limits, and 
    public awareness campaigns.

The inquiry will also examine the role that might be played by new environmental technologies, and the scope for wider transport policies — for example on public transport and cycling and walking — to cut air pollution.

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Joan Walley MP said: 

"Air pollution is thought to contribute to more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet the UK is still breaching European safety limits nearly five years after EU fines were first threatened. The Environmental Audit Committee warned four years ago that an urgent policy response, greater public awareness and a shift in transport policy was required if air quality was to be improved. We will now be examining what progress has been made by central and local Government since then in removing the most polluting vehicles from the road and encouraging cleaner forms of transport."


The European Commission published  ‘Clean Air Policy Package’ proposals in December 2013, which includes possible new air quality targets. In February 2014 the Commission also announced its decision to start financial penalty action against the UK.
In recent weeks there have been smogs in London and Public Health England published data in April on increased mortality from air pollution — the new inquiry will provide an opportunity to identify the latest evidence on the health impacts of air pollution

Submitting written evidence

As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent online.

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing. The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act. We may also ask you to comment on the process of submitting evidence via the web portal so that we can look to make improvements. If you have any queries or concerns about the collection and use of this information or do not wish your details to be used for the purpose of collecting feedback, please email the Committee providing your full name, address, and if relevant your organisation.

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Thursday 5 June 2014.

Each submission should:

  1. be no more than 3,000 words in length
  2. be in Word format with as little use logos as possible
  3. have numbered paragraphs
  4. include a declaration of interests.

Please note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

Further information

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