AIR POLLUTION (12735/05, 14335/05)
Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw
MP, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Thank you for your Second Supplementary Explanatory
Memorandum of 15 May 2006 which Sub Committee D (Environment and
Agriculture) considered at its meeting yesterday.
Action to combat air pollution is to be welcomed
but there is a risk that the measures to be introduced by the
proposed Directive are not as robust as they could be. The proposal
would introduce a non-mandatory provision to reduce PM2.5 by an
average of 20% across each Member State at urban background locations
by 2020. It will be important for the Government to work with
other Member States to ensure mandatory reduction requirements
are introduced in the future.
The proposed Directive also contains a provision
which would allow Member States up to five years further to comply
with existing limit values. This could potentially weaken the
public health protection offered by the existing air quality standards.
Member States must ensure its use is carefully controlled.
We note that the proposal indicates that a new
monitoring network will need to be in place by 2008 to assess
compliance with the proposal. We would be grateful for clarification
as to whether monitoring by each Member State will be mandatory.
15 June 2006
Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 15 June informing
me of the Committee's decision to clear the proposed Directive
on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe and, the Air
Thematic Strategy from scrutiny.
This Government remains committed to protecting
the public from the harmful effects of air pollution. The UK and
a few others pushed for an outcome more sensitive to the human
health implications of air pollution during these negotiations
but were not entirely successful in achieving that objective.
As you may know during Council Working Group negotiations, we
championed the exposure reduction approach for fine particulate
matter and pushed for mandatory obligations to be defined (subject
to a review of scientific evidence). However, we faced strong
opposition to our proposals since there appears to be very little
political appetite in most Member States to take this step despite
a significant body of scientific evidence.
However, our negotiating position has helped
to raise awareness and the Directive will eventually lead a health
improvement for a wide section of the population. Exposure reduction
moves away from the current approach of controlling air pollution
in highly localised hotspots such as street corners where there
may be few people, or where people do not spend long periods of
time. It focuses on percentage reductions in concentrations of
fine particulate levels in areas where most of the population
lives, and therefore will lead to better air quality for a wider
section of the community.
The draft Directive introduces new standards
for fine particulates, and requires air quality monitoring in
urban background areas. Turning to your question, it will be mandatory
for Member States to compulsorily increase the number and types
of air pollution monitoring equipment currently in place in order
to be able to comply with the reporting requirements of the Directive.
28 June 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw
Thank you for your letter of 28 June in reply
to my letter of 15 June regarding the Directive on Ambient Air
Quality and the associated Thematic Strategy. Sub-Committee D
(Environment and Agriculture) considered your letter at its meeting
on 19 July.
We welcome the agreement on new air pollution
limits but support your assertion that mandatory obligations should
be defined. We recommend that the Government should continue to
work with the European Parliament and the other Member States
to ensure that mandatory obligations for fine particulate matter
(PM2.5) are set in regulation as soon as the reliable measurement
of such matter is established as technically possible.
20 July 2006