New inquiry: Air quality: a follow up report

11 May 2011

The Committee is today launching a new inquiry into air quality in the UK to assess progress since the Committee’s previous report in March 2010, in particular to assess whether the Government is developing an effective strategy for meeting its obligations under the EU Air Quality Directives for particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

In following up the Environmental Audit Committee’s previous report, and the Government’s response to that report, it will examine the latest scientific evidence about the health effects of poor air quality and environmental damage that air pollution causes, including Government research.

The Committee is interested in receiving written evidence that looks at the following themes of the inquiry:

  • the causes of particulate and NO2 air pollution in the UK and how these can be reduced most effectively.
  • the impacts on health and the environment from particulate and NO2 pollution, and how these should be measured.
  • the effectiveness of the Government’s strategy for improving particulate and NO2 air quality, and how that might be improved.
  • the potential effects of the Government’s localism agenda and proposed reforms of public health provision on local authorities’ capacity for tackling poor air quality.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence, setting out their views on these issues. More wide ranging responses are also welcome. Submissions should ideally be sent to the Committee by Friday 3 June. Guidance on preparing submissions is set out below.


Environmental Audit Committee reported on poor Air Quality in the last Parliament and found that air pollution could be contributing to as many as 50,000 deaths per year. Averaged across the whole UK population it was estimated that poor air quality is shortening lives by 7-8 months. In pollution hotspots it could be cutting the most vulnerable people’s lives short by as much as 9 years. They recommended a dramatic shift in transport policy was required if air quality is to be improved.

The UK is still failing to meet targets for particulate matter (PM10) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) under the EU Air Quality Legislation. It has received an extension to meet PM10 targets and is expected to apply for an extension to meet NO2 targets soon. The now-extended deadline for complying with the EU limit values for PM10, which are still breached in London, is 11 June 2011.

The Health & Social Care Bill envisages directors of public health being located within local authorities, having new public health improvement and health protection duties.

For written submissions to the Committee, please note:

Each submission should ideally:

  • Be no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Have numbered paragraphs; and
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked ‘Air Quality’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Guide for written submissions to Select Committees (PDF PDF 1.23 MB)

Image: iStockphoto 

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