March 28, 2007
Question written on 28/03/2007
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the legal consequences are for the United Kingdom of breaches of European standards for particulate matter air pollution in London in 2005 and 2006.
Answered by Ben Bradshaw
The primary legal consequence of breaches of air quality limit values is that the European Commission may bring the matter before the European Court of Justice under Article 226 of the European Community Treaty. Further sanctions are available to the Commission in cases where any member state fails to comply with the resulting Court judgment.In the UK, compliance problems are not widespreadthey generally apply at highly localised hotspots (such as a street corner, which are greatly influenced by traffic). In 2005, most people (around 99.9 per cent. of the population) were already breathing air that complied with the PM10 standard.The Ambient Air Quality Directive places a statutory obligation on the Government to produce a plan which explains action that we will take to bring areas of exceedence back into compliance.Our national air quality strategy review, currently under way, considers additional policy measures that may be needed to help us achieve national and European air quality standards.