Girling: Directive will address a serious public health crisis

12-Jul-2016 @ 14:30

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New limits which would see significant reductions in five key air pollutants cleared a significant hurdle in Brussels today.

The European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee approved a draft directive, led by Conservative MEP Julie Girling, that is expected to halve the number premature deaths from air pollution.

Speaking after the vote Mrs Girling, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, was delighted that agreement had been reached after three years of negotiation.

She said: "This is an urgent public health crisis and between 2020 and 2030 we will improve the health outcomes by 50 per cent. That means 200,000 people across Europe each year not losing their lives prematurely, and that's a huge impact.

"What has become very clear is that these individual pollutants don't act in isolation. That is why much tighter limits than before are being placed on ammonia, for example, because it has been identified as a pre-cursor to respiratory diseases when mixed with other substances."

The draft directive sets national limits for emissions of five pollutants by 2030. They are sulphur dioxide, typically emitted by coal fired power stations; nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter, which are found in vehicle emissions; and non-methane volatile organic compounds and ammonia, both a result of agricultural production. It will be up to each Member State to decide how to meet their targets.

Mrs Girling hoped the UK and Europe would continue to co-operate on tackling air pollution post Brexit.

"About 40 to 50 per cent of the air we breathe, particularly in the southern UK, comes from Europe so we have an interest in making sure that is as clean as possible," she said.

"Brexit is not just about trade. This is an area where over the last 20 years we have made real progress and I hope we can continue working together. It is too soon to say under what umbrella that might happen, but I am ready to play my part in making it work."

The draft directive is expected to secure final approval from the European Parliament later this year.


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