The Government has published a response to an Air Quality report and has gone against the recommendations of the Environmental Audit Committee by refusing a Public Inquiry to investigate failed Air Quality Strategies which have caused thousands of deaths from Air Pollution.
The purpose of the cross party Environmental Audit Committee is to audit the Governments environmental policies and it filed a report on Air Quality in December 2014.
One of the key recommendations of that report was that there should be an independent Public Inquiry. The report said;
In the past the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution would have helped to review air pollution and make recommendations for remedial action. The Sustainable Development Commission, similarly, might have been expected to address this important sustainability issue. Both no longer exist. In the absence now of an independent body responsible for air quality, the time has come for decisive action and we therefore support calls for an independent public inquiry to look at the required urgent action on air pollution(Paragraph 93)
The Government replied to that recommendation;
The Government does not support the request for an independent public inquiry to look at air pollution. We are working, and will continue to work, with all the relevant organisations to ensure a consistent approach to air pollution’
The purpose of a Public Inquiry is to established exactly why Air Quality strategies have failed in the past so that the same mistakes are not made in the future.
The Environmental Audit Committee investigated the problems of failed Air Quality strategies and recommended a Public Inquiry following scientific evidence which shows that there has been little or no improvement in Air Quality and that thousands are dying from air pollution related diseases every year.
Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Committee , criticised the Government’s failure to act now after repeated warnings from the Committee:
“This was an opportunity for the Government to pledge decisive action to cut the air pollution, thought to be killing nearly as many people in the UK as smoking. But Coalition Ministers have once again failed to face up to the problem and instead passed the buck to the next Government. We have been warning that urgent action is needed for the last five years and while this Government has accepted that there is a problem it has repeatedly failed to take the tough decisions necessary to sort it out.”
Chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, is also supporting the campaign commented: “Air pollution is now reaching really worrying levels in London and other major urban areas. We urgently need to identify the scale of the problem, its causes, and what solutions we need to adopt. An Inquiry could provide real help in doing so.”
Johns McDonnell MP wrote to the Committee in November of behalf of 25 MPs and Peers calling for an urgent Public Inquiry commented
“New estimates of 1000 deaths per week in the UK from air pollution are shocking and unacceptable. I’m appalled at the government’s continued failure to act. Given existing policies to tackle air pollution are having no effect we now urgently need an inquiry into how we can tackle the mounting air pollution crisis.”
Dave Davies of the Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry said
‘It is outrageous that the Government continues to pretend that it is taking proper action when the scientific evidence clearly shows that its air quality strategies have failed and continue to do so. Meanwhile thousands of people are dying.