Defra has ‘no firm date’ to reopen hacked air website

Pollution levels downgraded to ‘low’ on air quality website, which is still offline after it was hacked last week

It remains unclear when Defra’s air quality information website will be back up and running after it was hacked by an Islamist group last week.

Screenshot of the Defra air quality forecast today (April 17)

Screenshot of the Defra air quality forecast today (April 17)

Only the landing page of the UK Air website, which contains maps showing Defra’s five-day air pollution forecast for the UK, has been visible to visitors since the site was taken offline following the hack on April 7 (see story).

Visitors to the website before it was taken offline were greeted with a photo of a building draped in a flag depicting former Iraq ruler Saddam Hussein, followed by a message from a group called Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail.

The website is operated on behalf of Defra under a contract with consultancy Ricardo-AEA.

And, although Defra said it was working with Ricardo-AEA to get the site fully back up and running “as soon as possible”, a spokeswoman for the Department told today (April 17) that “no firm date” had yet been set for the website’s re-instatement.

However, with the UK Air website still offline, further detailed information on air monitoring stations and current localised levels of pollution normally accessible on the website is unavailable.

Currently, according to the landing page forecast, particle pollution levels have been downgraded to ‘low’ for today after the high levels were previously forecast for the coming days earlier this week (see story).

A Defra spokeswoman explained that the outlook had changed as particles of Saharan dust previously forecasted to blow over to the UK were now not expected to materialise.

The forecast states that there are currently (as of 12pm GMT) no UK regions with high or very high levels of pollution, although there are expected to be isolated areas of moderate pollution in the south, with much the same expected over the next five days.


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