A generation of British children will grow up surrounded by illegally high levels of air pollution because the Government has rejected proposals to protect schools in the worst affected areas, MPs claim.
Air pollution is thought to kill up to 60,000 people a year and a committee of MPs came up with a plan last December to tackle this problem. But in its response published today, the Government rejected most of the main recommendations.
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 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 past five years. While this Government accepted that there is a problem, it has repeatedly failed to take the decisions necessary to sort it out.
Joan Walley, Labour MP who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee
Ministers said there was no need for additional planning rules despite the committee asking the Government to “make it impossible to build new schools, care homes or health clinics near existing air pollution hot spots” by changing planning laws.
They pointed out that filters can be fitted to schools’ ventilation systems to “provide cleaner air”.
The committee’s calls for taxes on diesel vehicles designed to reduce air pollution were also rejected, but the Government said it would consider setting up a network of low-emission zones to improve air quality.