It is recognised that air pollution is estimated to reduce the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of six months, an effect equivalent to 50,000 deaths a year. This blog has previously posted about the public health problems, the latest being here.
It has emerged that the environment minister, Rory Stewart, advised Tory MEPs that the government does not believe that the proposed ceilings on emissions are “proportionate, deliverable and evidence based, and do not impact disproportionately on any one sector” Tory MEPs were told to support a ‘get-out clause’ in proposed new Europe-wide laws. The move fundamentally weakened the EU legislation and allowed the British government to ignore the damage done by high-emitting sectors, such as the car industry.
An independent analysis by the European Environmental Bureau, a Brussels-based coalition of environmental charities, found that weaker pollution limits being pushed for by the British government would lead to about 11,000 additional deaths in the UK by 2030, and an extra 136,000 across Europe.
The World Health Organization compiled a data-base of air quality of 3000 cities. Of 52 UK towns and cities included in the UN database, Port Talbot in south Wales, a hub for the UK steel industry, is the most polluted, ahead of London, Glasgow, Southampton and Leeds. The cleanest UK city in the WHO list is Inverness, followed by Bournemouth, Newcastle and Sunderland.