AIR POLLUTION: The EU rightly takes our dirty-air Government to court



NDR set to increase health risk


Air pollution in the east of England is bad enough to figure in new EU legal proceedings against the British government.

Further road-building projects, such as the Northern Distributor Road in Norwich, are likely to make the situation worse.

Last year, the Department of Health’s own figures revealed that  Watford and Luton are the worst places in the Eastern Region for causing death through man made air pollution with 6.50% of deaths in Watford and  6.43%  in Luton attributable to air pollution, above some London boroughs.

The UK now faces court appearances and fines of up to £300m a year after the European Commission launched legal proceedings against it for failing to reduce “excessive” levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution from traffic in line with the air quality directive which should have been adopted in 2008. The British government has been given two months to respond.

The east of England is named as one of sixteen areas of the country where air pollution limits are regularly exceeded.

The Green Party’s national spokesman on transport, Rupert Read, who is also lead candidate in the east for the Euro elections in May, said:

“The European Parliament did great work in setting limits on air pollution to protect our health and save huge sums in care costs. But it’s being undermined by our government’s failure to meet them.

“I agree, of course, with the European Commission that nitrogen dioxide, which mostly comes from traffic fumes, is the main precursor for ground-level ozone causing major respiratory problems and premature death. We’ve got to clean this up.”

Green Party councillor and campaigner against the Norwich Northern Distributor Road Denise Carlo said:

“The Government has made the Norwich NDR one of its top 40 infrastructure investment priorities, designed to cater for 40% more traffic by 2040 in support of economic growth. As a generator of traffic, the NDR would increase air pollution from nitrogen dioxide, diesel particulates and ground level ozone across the built up area and beyond. Public Health England has stated that the NDR is likely to cause deterioration of air quality at certain locations. 

“The road would come at a high price to the health and well- being of local communities, especially the young, the elderly and those with respiratory and heart conditions”.    

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and the World Health Organisation has confirmed that air pollution causes cancer. Poor air quality also causes heart attacks and children living near busy roads in the UK have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs.

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