Meeting nitrogen dioxide limits ‘challenging’

Environment minister Richard Benyon defends the government’s efforts to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution in UK

Meeting the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution in UK towns and cities is “challenging”, according to environment minister Richard Benyon.

In response to a written question put to the minister by Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards yesterday (June 10), Mr Benyon defended the government’s efforts to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution in the UK.

Environment minister Richard Benyon MP has defended the government's efforts to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution in the UK

Environment minister Richard Benyon MP has defended the government’s efforts to reduce nitrogen dioxide pollution in the UK

Asked by Mr Edwards what progress the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was making towards reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution levels, Mr Benyone said: “Evidence suggests that targeted action to accelerate the introduction of cleaner vehicles is the most effective way of reducing nitrogen dioxide levels in our towns and cities.”

Mr Benyon said that the “underperformance of diesel vehicles against EU emissions standards” for nitrogen dioxide is a “key part of the problem”.

The environment minister then highlighted “significant” government investment in low emission and hybrid vehicle incentives, as well as initiatives such as the Reduced Pollution Certificates and the £100 million Green Bus Fund (see story), adding that the government was continuing to “explore these and other measures to achieve further reductions in air pollution”.

Mr Benyon said: “While the UK is compliant with most EU air quality standards, meeting the limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in cities and towns is challenging. This is a situation shared by most other member states.”

Public health

Mr Edwards also asked the environment minister what conversations he had had with the health secretary and devolved UK authorities about the “consequences to human health of nitrogen dioxide pollution”.

In his reply, Mr Benyon said he and Defra had been involved in “extensive discussions to raise awareness of the health effects of air pollution” with the Department of Health.

With regards to councils, he highlighted the fact that since April 2013, air quality has been included as an indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for local authorities.

Mr Benyon said: “Defra, the Department of Health and Public Health England also work together to keep the evidence on the health effects of air pollution, including nitrogen dioxide, under review.

“Defra works closely with the devolved administrations on our shared air pollution evidence programme and on ensuring that health impacts from air pollution are properly reflected in the EU review of air quality policy.”


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sarah watkinson
sarah watkinson
11 years ago

Towns and cities are not the only places with high Nox readings. Villages with busy through roads need to be included. Bladon in West Oxon, with 12000-16000 vehicles per day on the A4095 including 6-7% HGV’s in an enclosed narrow main street, had near-EU limits Nox when we were last informed by WODC. Is an up-to-date record available?

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