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Air Pollution

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking towards the achievement of public service agreement 28 on ambient air quality. (320000)

In the delivery agreement document for this public service agreement (PSA) published in October 2007 DEFRA said it will take forward actions under the UK air quality strategy and implement the EU air quality directives.

The Department will also take forward the review of the national air quality strategy to identify potential new policy measures to provide further health benefits and help move closer towards the strategy’s air quality objectives. DEFRA will integrate environmental objectives, such as air quality targets, and sustainable development into policies and practice, and promote these across government, the UK and internationally. DEFRA will continue to work with partners in the EU and internationally on actions and measures to tackle national and transboundary air pollution.

Further detail on the PSA is available in the Treasury booklet “PSA Delivery Agreement 28: Secure a healthy natural environment for today and the future” available from the Treasury website at:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which areas of the country he expects to be compliant with EU limits on ambient air concentrations of particulates and nitrogen oxide at the conclusion of the term of the renewable energy strategy. (320001)

The renewable energy strategy is the Government’s comprehensive action plan for achieving the UK’s share of the EU 2020 renewable energy target. It was published in July 2009 alongside the low carbon transition plan.

Projections of air quality, which exclude the impact of the renewable energy strategy, indicate that the UK is expected to be in full compliance with limit values for particulate matter in 2020, and that exceedences of limit values for nitrogen dioxide will be confined to a small number of roadside locations in London. These exceedences are associated with road transport emission sources.

Emission projections, which include policies contained within the low carbon transition plan and the renewable energy strategy, indicate a small net increase in the emission of oxides of nitrogen due to increased uptake in combined heat and power units, and no change in relation to emissions of particulate matter. While a full exceedences assessment has not yet been undertaken based on these emissions projections, it is thought unlikely that there will be any impact on the extent of limit value exceedences in 2020.

DEFRA and DECC have worked closely to identify policies within the renewable energy strategy that may impact on air quality. For example, the renewable heat incentive proposes a maximum emissions standard for biomass boilers below 20MW to minimise any detrimental impact on air quality in urban areas.