The government cannot achieve the air quality improvements advised by medical experts, so it has set its targets lower for the next 10 years, the Environment Minister admitted when she unveiled New environmental plan.
“We have cleaner air,” Therese Coffey said on Tuesday. “I want it to be cleaner. Now, I wish I had Make our goal to achieve 10 µg [of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, per cubic metre of air] By 2030, not 2040. Many parts of the country already have this, but the evidence shows us that with the best will in the world we can’t get it everywhere by the end of the decade, particularly in London.”
But air pollution experts pointed to research by King’s College London and Imperial College London which showed the government could meet the tougher targets, which the public supports in opinion polls, if it took stronger action on sources of pollution, which include diesel. Cars and wood burning.
Sarah Woolnow, chief executive of the charity Asthma + Lung UK, said: “Air pollution is a public health emergency causing 36,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. The government has ignored our calls to bring forward its compliance deadline, instead saying it will make our air cleaner by 2040. That falls far short of what is needed – it means that for another 17 years, children will be forced to live, learn and play with toxic levels of air pollution, and a new generation will be doomed to breathe air so dirty that it can stunt their lung development, and cause disease Lung is like cancer, and leads to existing conditions including asthma.”
Coffey also ruled out a ban on wood-burning stoves, choosing instead to “educate” people about their use. There will be stricter regulation around new wood stoves, which in designated “smoke control zones” will be allowed to pour no more than 3g of smoke per hour, instead of 5g at present, but Coffey said she wanted to “avoid pointing fingers”. By suppressing existing stove users.
Most people in urban areas have access to alternative methods of heating their homes, and should be encouraged to use them instead, said Andrea Lee, Campaigns and Policy Director for Clean Air at Client Earth. “There should be a gradual cessation of wood burning in urban areas,” she said.
Wood-burning stoves, which are usually expensive to install, are increasingly being used in urban areas for aesthetic reasons, and are now the main source of air pollution in many areas.
Covey also confirmed that there would be no major new funding to achieve the targets in the United States 262-page environmental improvement planwhich was published on Tuesday, apart from a new multi-million-pound fund to protect some species including hedgehogs and red squirrels.
Some agriculture leaders said New sources of financing will be needed To encourage farmers to go greener ways.
But Mark Spencer, the agriculture secretary, told the Guardian that farmers already receive £2.4bn in public payments a year, and that should be enough. “People in agriculture want to make a really positive impact on the environment,” he said, “and we need to get them on the ladder of ambition.” “We’re pushing the door open with a lot growers in the United KingdomThey think all the time about the environment. It is a privilege to farm and work in the scenic landscape of the UK.”
Activists have also called on the government to make building green spaces mandatory in new developments. Ministers pledged to ensure that every home had access to it Green space or water within 15 minutes walkTo this end, Natural England is creating a comprehensive map of green spaces.
Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England, said: “What we discovered by doing this map is just that Some of the most disadvantaged communities have the least access to green spaces. Environmental amelioration is also the leveling of some of the disparities in this country.”
Richard Penwell, chief executive of conservation group Wildlife and Countryside Link, said local authority planners should be under an obligation to include access to nature and green spaces in planned new developments. “a lot of people Living in polluted neighborhoods deprived of natureat enormous cost to mental and physical health.” “Billions of pounds could be saved for the NHS if everyone lived in a healthy environment, and millions of lives could be brightened.”
The EIP outlined Tuesday includes goals and measures to address a wide range of environmental problems, from species loss and air and water pollution to waste and recycling. It is a requirement under the Environment Act, and is intended to make for an achievable scheme.
This followed criticism last week from the legal watchdog, the Bureau of Environmental Protection, that The UK was failing or showing little progress on almost every environmental metric.
Ms Glennis Stacey, head of the OEP office, told the Guardian on Tuesday she welcomed the solar plan. But, she added, “It’s all about delivery now. The goals are good, but we need to see delivery.”
Many environmental activists were concerned about loopholes in the plan, pointing out for example that although it contains provisions for installing double toilets, it does little to force water companies to stop pouring sewage into rivers.
Doug Parr, director of British policy at Greenpeace UK, said: “If this is a roadmap, it is a roadmap to brinkmanship. This Conservative government has promised the most ambitious environmental plan of any country on earth. Instead, here are more papers with it On a lousy patchwork of policies that fail to address many of the real threats to our natural world. It just won’t work.”
Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow environment minister, said: “Since then [Coffey] Later, governors violated a statutory deadline for publishing environmental goals, showed indifference to the sewage scandal by refusing to meet with water chiefs, and announced measures that caused more dumping of sewage and toxic air on our country for longer. “