POLLUTION: Gummer sets 2005 target to eliminate smogs

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The Government's final version of its National Air Quality strategy was published yesterday after three months of consultation, setting maximum levels for eight different types of health-threatening pollution which should never be exceeded after 2005.

But there was a catch; half of these targets are only provisional with the Government proposing to make no final decision until 1999. The Secretary of State for the Environment, John Gummer, said the strategy would eliminate both summer and winter smogs.

Many of the curbs are already being implemented, largely as a result of European Union laws. But achieving the targets for oxides of nitrogen, ozone, particulates (dangerous, microscopic airborne specks) and sulphur dioxide by 2005 will probably require more.

Under the strategy, local councils in areas with bad air quality must club together to formulate action plans. There will also be regulations which allow fixed penalty fines, such as parking tickets, to be given to motorists whose cars fail exhaust emission checks when checked at the roadside.

The UK National Air Quality Strategy, available from Stationery Office bookshops, pounds 17.85.