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134BAfter paragraph (5) (c), insert:
("( ) measures of a temporary nature which are to be taken by local authorities and other persons in the event that air quality standards appear likely to be exceeded.").

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, Amendment No. 134B seeks reassurance from the Minister, if he can give it. Otherwise it seeks inclusion in the Bill of a provision for local authorities to take, when required, temporary measures to deal with air quality standards.

I raised the matter following debate in another place on an amendment moved by my honourable friend the Member for Truro, who drew the attention of the other place to the need for any strategy to allow for temporary measures. Your Lordships will be well aware from recent personal experience how quickly air quality can deteriorate. But we have a weather prediction system—that description might glorify it a little but the science is there—which can predict when pollution levels will climb rapidly. Once air quality standards have been set, it ought to be possible to forecast over a three or

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four-day timescale when those standards may be breached because of weather conditions in conjunction with other events.

If so, the Government, working with local authorities, could take steps to ensure that air quality standards would not be breached. Perhaps I may give two examples. First, one might impose for a short period speed limits on motorways. We know that at high speeds vehicles are far more polluting than if speeds are controlled. My second example entails the closure of certain streets in city centres. After all, is it right to say to those who suffer from respiratory illnesses, "Pollution levels tomorrow and the day after will be very high and we suggest you stay at home"? The message should rather be: "Pollution levels will be very high and car drivers should leave their cars at home", so that those with respiratory illnesses should not have to stay at home and suffer. Those are just two examples of short-term but very urgent steps that might be taken.

When the matter was discussed in another place, it was suggested by the then Minister that such powers do in fact exist. He was not able to give chapter and verse. More recently in a Question to the then Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for North Cornwall asked the Secretary of State to confirm that he had such powers. He asked him to explain how he intended to use them and to tell the other place what opportunities he would offer to local authorities to use such powers as well. The answer from the Secretary of State for Transport was:

    "I think the honourable gentleman is referring to road safety regulations".

My honourable friends have not yet been able to obtain further clarity on the matter.

Therefore, I raise the issue today in the hope that the Minister will be able to reassure your Lordships that the powers in local authorities do exist. If he cannot do so, perhaps he will assist me and the House by saying how, within this strategy, temporary measures, which are quite often very urgent and important measures, can be achieved. I beg to move.

Moved, That Amendment No. 134B, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 134, be agreed to.—(Baroness Hamwee.)

Lord Renton: My Lords, the amendment moved by the noble Baroness has to be regarded in the light of what comes earlier in subsection (5) of the new clause proposed by Commons Amendment No. 134. Subsection (5) (a) refers to:

    "standards relating to the quality of air".

The noble Baroness's amendment says:

    "in the event that air quality standards appear likely to be exceeded".

That looks like quality standards better than those required.

I should have thought—if the Government wanted this amendment, they could accept a manuscript amendment to it—that rather than the words "likely to be exceeded", the noble Baroness has in mind the words "unlikely to be reached".

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Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right to draw attention to this matter. Air pollution is a terrible thing and so is the pollution by vehicles. Indeed, in the past 24 hours or so, we have seen a certain amount of pollution occurring.

I can help her with her concern. The prime aim of a strategy for managing air quality has to be to reduce air pollution in general. If that is done, one avoids the risk of what the professionals call "episodes". An episode is a period of high pollution. We recognise that the risk of such episodes is bound to remain. One cannot remove them wholly. That is why the publications Improving Air Quality and Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge stated quite clearly that appropriate action in these episodes must also be part of the new system. In other words, it is right to address the totality in order to reduce air pollution in general, but when a period of high pollution occurs, appropriate action must be taken.

In line with that, amendments to the Bill have been carefully framed so as to cover long-term goals as well as more immediate action. The amendment will allow response measures to be developed for both the long and the short term. I can assure the noble Baroness that developing sensible and effective action during pollution episodes, or when periods of high pollution can be accurately forecast, will be an integral part of implementing the air quality provisions of the Bill. It is not necessary therefore to single out those episodes on the face of the Bill. In fact, that may produce an adverse effect. I know the noble Baroness did not table the amendment with that intention, but it may suggest that less attention should be paid to the planned long-term measures which would help us to avoid the short-term problems.

The noble Baroness said that she found it difficult to know where the provisions occur in the Bill. Perhaps I can draw her attention to Amendment No. 261, which amends Sections 1 and 6 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 which allows traffic regulation orders to be made for the same purposes as those for which regulations may be made under Part IV relating to air quality. Of course, we must take careful account of a number of other considerations before those powers are used, but the amendment also amends Section 122 of the 1984 Act to the effect that local authorities with traffic and parking responsibilities under that section would be required to have regard, so far as practicable, to the national air quality strategy.

I hope that I have been able to satisfy the anxieties of the noble Baroness with that explanation.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, that is extremely helpful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 134B, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 134, by leave, withdrawn.

6.30 p.m.


134CAfter Clause 75, after paragraph (5) (c), insert:
("( ) an assessment of the likely costs to local authorities of carrying out reviews under section (Local authority reviews) and of implementing action plans under section

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(Duties of local authorities in relation to designated areas) and a statement of the Secretary of State's proposals for making a contribution to these costs.").

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 134C as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 134.

I am taking up a lot of your Lordships' time and shall endeavour to be brief. The noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, referred, quite rightly, to anxieties felt by local authorities in regard to the likely cost of proceeding with the strategy. That is not to say that there is a reluctance to do so, but inevitably the question arises whether local authorities will be able to finance the process. I recognise that there may be a question of privilege if I were to seek to include an amendment calling for a higher level of public expenditure. I hope therefore that Amendment No. 134C, in drawing your Lordships' attention to the issue, will achieve the appropriate response from the Minister.

Local authorities will be under a duty to review air quality; to declare the whole or part of their area as an air quality management area and, in relation to those air quality management areas, under a duty to produce action plans. That will clearly mean that new costs will be incurred. The Minister indicated earlier that the costs may not be very high. However, monitoring will not be a paper exercise and in some areas continuous monitoring will be required.

In London we now have an established monitoring system—the London Air Quality Network—which was commended by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution in its recent report on transport. That network will need to be augmented to ensure that all local authority areas are covered for all the target pollutants. Areas outside of London which do not currently monitor air quality are likely to be faced with substantial extra costs.

I therefore tabled an amendment to add, at the end of subsection (5) (c), that the way in which the Secretary of State draws up his strategy should include an assessment of the likely costs to local authorities for carrying out their reviews and implementing action plans. There should also be a statement by the Secretary of State of his proposals for making a contribution to those costs. I tabled that amendment in order to require the Secretary of State, as part of the whole exercise, to make clear what the costs are likely to be and what proposals there may be for meeting them. I beg to move.

Moved, That Amendment No. 134C, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 134, be agreed to.—(Baroness Hamwee.)

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