Campaign group criticises Defra plans to reduce releases of air quality statistics

Campaign group Clean Air London’s Simon Birkett criticises Defra’s recent proposals to reduce the the number of air quality statistical releases

Clean Air London’s Simon Birkett has criticised the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) for its plans to streamline annual statistical releases on air quality.

Responding to the proposals on behalf of his campaign organisation Clean Air London on Friday (23 Nov), Birkett criticised Defra for “systematically hiding important information about air pollution in London and elsewhere”.

Clean Air London’s Simon Birkett is unhappy with Defra’s proposals to reduce its annual air quality statistics releases

Each year Defra currently releases provisional (2 February) and final (26 April) ‘Air quality statistics in the UK’ reports for the previous calendar year, as well as a summary of the data submitted to the European Commission for the previous calendar year on 28 September entitled ‘Air pollution in the UK’.

The department also annually releases statistical information on emissions and sources of air pollution on 15 December and 14 February for the previous calendar year.

However, Defra is proposing to streamline these statistical releases on air quality in order to “provide a more coherent service to users” and opened an informal consultation on the issue which ended on Friday (23 Nov).

These proposals include reducing the number of pollutants included in the national statistical releases, scrapping February releases for the previous calendar year and scrapping the December emissions release.

Informal consultation

In response to Defra’s proposals, Birkett criticised Defra’s two-week informal consultation period for being too short and undermining the importance of the issue: “Clean Air London (CAL) objects strongly to this important consultation being held ‘informally’ with just two weeks to comment.”

Birkett stated: “CAL recommends that the current system of main and supplementary releases should remain intact.”

He added: “CAL disagrees strongly with the proposal to ‘rationalise the existing publications on emissions of air pollutants in order to focus on the key pollutants of public interest [as judged by the Government]’ (page 3). The purpose of a statistical release should be to clearly and accessibly present the full range of data, therefore allowing the public and NGOs to make up their minds as to where their own interests lie.”


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