Anthony Rae for FOE 1st November 2015: Are you concerned about air pollution – where you live or work? Have you noticed over the years that nothing’s been done about it, and ever wondered why?

Did you know that around 80% of it is caused by road vehicles, particularly diesel cars and vans [source DEFRA Overview para.29]. And that it’s responsible for in excess of an astonishing 30,000 deaths a year nationally [Overview para.8]?

That would mean around 100 deaths a year here in Calderdale, many more than the number of road accident fatalities.

And yet the UK government has been under a legal duty set by the EU Air Quality Directive to make sure that pollution was reduced to a compliant level by 2010. Which it ignored … until Client Earth, an environmental campaigning organisation, won its legal case at the Supreme Court earlier this year requiring the government to set out plans by the end of 2015 for how they will ensure that air quality in every part of the UK will be in ‘full compliance … by 2020 at the latest’.

Government’s new plans won’t solve the problem …

The government have now published their plans and they’re out for consultation, which ends this Friday – 6th November. So the big question is: are they good enough? Because if they’re not then air pollution everywhere will go on causing deaths not just up to 2020 but beyond throughout the 2020s. Year after year. Affecting you, your children and your community.

Now, air pollution is a complicated subject but Client Earth, Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and Friends of the Earth have examined the government plans in detail and have reached their own judgement: they’re absolutely not good enough!

Client Earth say there are four main problems: lack of supporting evidence for the government’s air pollution analysis; lack of action to be taken at the national level; lack of resources available to tackle air pollution; and ‘uncertainty from the use of Euro standards’ – by which they mean ‘will EU prescribed improvements to engine technology actually deliver real world improvements upon which the government is relying?’. And of course the VW scandal has given us the answer to that.

But if enough people tell the government that they need to start again and produce some really effective solutions for air pollution then something might actually happen: the EU could reject the UK government’s plans; maybe Client Earth could take them back to court again.

… So you need to tell them to fix it!

– If you want to read up a little bit more on the problem you can do so here (Client Earth) and here (Transport North) or download the CBT briefing.

– Most importantly you can TAKE action NOW by responding to the government consultation using the online form prepared by CBT. It’s really quick and easy. They’ve already set out the key points to make and the steps the Government needs to take. If you agree with these just add your name and email address, click ‘submit’, and it’s done. But, if you can, please also add a few sentences about the air pollution where you are from your own experience and the lack of action in tackling it.

– But what is the current state of air pollution here in Calderdale? Calderdale Friends of the Earth have done the research on this, including having meetings with the council. For the actual evidence look at the bold numbers above 40 in the right-hand column on page 6 of their latest progress report. They’re all the locations where annual pollution exceeds the limit.

So here’s a text that you can cut-and-paste into the CBT form under question 2 (where it says ‘Include comments on your local plan here’). And please do add some comments (above the final paragraph) about your own experience of air pollution:

Comments from Calderdale, West Yorkshire

I know that Calderdale Friends of the Earth have researched the state of air pollution in the district (where I live), whether it is compliant with EU standards now and whether it will be in 2020. They say that:

– the Council’s 2015 air quality progress report shows that is not compliant in many locations and across the Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in Calderdale; and there is no evidence it will be by 2020.

– The analysis and modelling underpinning the government’s proposals for West Yorkshire is inadequate and flawed. As just one example most of Calderdale is omitted from the area examined. The West Yorkshire officers say ‘air quality monitoring carried out by the districts indicate discrepancies which contradict the [government] modelled results’ for future compliance.

Consequently its forecasts about about when air quality in Calderdale will be fully compliant cannot be trusted; and that’s before account is taken of the discrepancy between the vehicle emissions laboratory tests (upon which the government modelling is based) and what happens in the real world.

– Like all local authorities Calderdale Council does not have the necessary powers and resources to tackle air pollution locally so that it will be sorted out by 2020, and this is also demonstrated by the fact that there has been little progress in resolving the problems in the Calderdale AQMAs over the last decade. They must be given all the tools they need to sort local air pollution out now.

For these reasons I do not believe that the government’s proposals are adequate – because they will not ensure that air pollution here will be reduced to below EU standards by 2020 at the latest – and that accordingly they must be revised to provide compliance with certainty.

Here’s a link to that online form again. And if you know of other people who might like to respond please circulate the link to this page.

Remember the deadline is this Friday 6th November

For more information contact


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