UK's new Clean Air Strategy goes 'far beyond' EU standards

15th January 2019

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Richard Holmes

Only the cleanest stoves will be available for sale in the UK by 2022 under a range of new measures announced yesterday in the government's Clean Air Strategy.

The most polluting fuels will also be banned under the rules, described by ministers as “going far beyond EU requirements“, while new emission regulations for agriculture will be introduced.

It is hoped that the strategy will cut the costs of air pollution to society by £1.7bn every year by 2020, rising to £5.3bn from 2030, and help tackle a problem that is linked to 29,000 premature deaths in the UK annually.

The government said it would also publish evidence early this year outlining what further action is needed to meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for air quality.

Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.

“The new strategy sets out the important role all of us – across all sectors of work and society – can play in reducing emissions and cleaning up our air to protect our health.“

Along with bans on fuels and stoves, the strategy includes commitments to bring smoke control legislation up to date, with the government saying it would make these laws easier to enforce.

It also said it would continue to explore how to give local authorities powers to increase the rate of upgrades for inefficient and polluting heating appliances.

In addition, farmers will receive funding to help them invest in emission-reducing infrastructure, while regulations will be introduced to minimise pollution from fertiliser and ensure low-emission farming techniques.

However, there was no commitment to bring forward a 2040 ban on conventional diesel and petrol car sales, or any mention of additional Clean Air Zones across the country.

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, Jenny Bates, said the biggest problem with the UK's illegal NO2 air pollution is from road transport, and that more action is needed in this area.

“We therefore need much stronger measures to ensure we not only have cleaner vehicles on our roads but also fewer of them, as well as improving public transport and supporting the switch to electric vehicles,“ she continued.

“If the government is serious about protecting our health, and the health of the planet, it must scrap new road building plans which would add to the problem, and phase out petrol and diesel vehicles faster than planned.“

Image credit: iStock


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