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Air Pollution

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to reduce levels of (a) particulate matter, (b) nitrogen dioxide and (c) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons adjacent to main roads to within the limits prescribed in EU legislation. (285514)

[holding answer 9 July 2009]: EU air quality limits are already met across 99 per cent. of the UK (land area). For the very small parts of the country where limit values are not yet met, including London, roadside locations present the greatest challenge. The UK, like most other member states is using the provisions in EU legislation to secure from the European Commission additional time to meet the limit values for both particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. If successful these would extend the compliance deadlines to 2011 for particulate matter and to 2015 for nitrogen dioxide.

The Government submitted in April their application for particulate matter:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/euint/eudirectives/airqualdirectives/notification.htm

and is working with the Mayor of London and relevant local authorities with a view to consulting on the application for nitrogen dioxide early in 2010. Applications need to set out the measures that will be taken to meet the limit values by the extended deadlines. The additional time will allow current and planned measures to take effect.

EU target values for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons do not come into force until 2012. In 2008 all monitoring sites at roadside locations exhibited concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon below the target value. Measures to reduce emissions from traffic source will continue to reduce concentrations at urban sites.

More widely, Government are working to improve the regulation of biomass heating systems to ensure that their rollout minimises any negative impact on air quality.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on his Department's request for a derogation from EU air quality standards in respect of particulate matter; and if he will make a statement. (287840)

EU air quality limits are already met across 99 per cent. of the UK (land area). For the very small parts of the UK where limit values are not yet met, roadside locations present the greatest challenge. The UK, like most other member states, is using the provisions under directive 2008/50/EC to secure additional time from the European Commission to meet the limit values for particulate matter (PM10).

In April, following public consultation, the UK Government submitted a notification to the Commission applying for the additional time available for eight areas across the UK. These are areas where at some point since 2005 exceedences of the PM10 limit values have been reported to the Commission.

Additional information was submitted to the Commission at the beginning of July in response to a request from them following their initial examination of the application. The Commission has indicated that it will conclude its examination in the autumn.

The UK application is available on the DEFRA website at:

www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/eu-int/eu-directives/airqual-directives/notification.htm

The additional information provided to the Commission shall be available on the website shortly.