Wednesday, 11 September 2013

48 hours to secure the right to know about local air pollution

From 38degees

The air we breathe has a direct impact on our health. But the government is trying to push through damaging changes which remove the responsibility for local authorities to assess air pollution and declare where it is a problem.

If the government's successful, you won’t be able to find out what the air is like in your local area. Or hold local authorities to account if it’s at unsafe levels. Which currently you’re able to do. And as usual it’s the poorest who will suffer the most - poorer areas have dirtier air and so are likely to feel the health impacts. These changes would leave poorer people, and particularly children, paying the price.

The government’s being sneaky. They’ve launched a consultation during the summer holidays, hoping that the public won’t cotton on and they can slip the changes through. Together we can do something about this: if enough of us respond to the consultation they’ll realise how important this is to people. Together we can stop the changes before they get too far.

The consultation closes in 48 hours on the 13th September. It only takes a few minutes to respond. Please click here:

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK – more than obesity and alcohol combined. It causes heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease and children living near busy roads have been shown to grow up with underdeveloped lungs. It doesn’t really make much sense, but the government is trying to pretend that taking away duties to measure pollution would lead to more action on air pollution, and an increased focus on EU requirements. In reality the changes would mean that we would know less about the air we breathe and so less will be done to improve it.

The government is trying to slip this through under the radar because they’re already feeling the pressure. They’ve been taken to court by environmental lawyers to push them to do the right thing.

Environmental lawyers, ClientEarth, think a big display of public opposition could make all the difference to how the government responds. Please click the link to write in to the consultation, it’s really simple and will only take 3 minutes:

This is the message I posted on the website:

Please don't push through damaging changes which remove all responsibility for local authorities to measure air quality and declare where it is a problem (options 3 and 4 in your consultation).

As a former teacher and headteacher in the inner city I kept track of air quality in order to advise children and families, particularly those already suffering from asthma and allergies, of periods when they would be liable to have respiratory problems..

Where I live in Brent, with main roads including the North Circular, and areas of poor air quality around Park Royal, Wembley and Neasden, local people have a right to know the quality of the air they and their children breathe. This gives them the knowledge to take personal preventative action as well as to make representations through the political process, locally and nationally.

Be responsible - don't remove these responsibilities.



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