A generation of children will grow up with their lives blighted by illegally high levels of air pollution after the Government rejected proposals to protect schools in the worst affected areas, MPs claim.
With air pollution thought to be killing up to 60,000 people a year, a committee of MPs came up with a plan last December to tackle the problem. But in its response published today, the Government rejected most of their main recommendations.
Joan Walley, the Labour MP who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “This was an opportunity for the Government to pledge decisive action to cut the air pollution, thought to be killing nearly as many people in the UK as smoking.
“But ministers have once again failed to face up to the problem and instead passed the buck to the next government. We have been warning that urgent action is needed for the past five years. While this Government accepted that there is a problem, it has repeatedly failed to take the decisions necessary to sort it out.”
The committee had asked the Government to “make it impossible to build new schools, care homes or health clinics near existing air pollution hot spots” by changing planning laws.
But in their response, ministers said there was no need for additional planning rules. They pointed out that filters can be fitted to schools’ ventilation systems to “provide cleaner air”.
The committee’s calls for taxes on diesel vehicles designed to reduce air pollution were also rejected, but the Government said it would consider setting up a network of low-emission zones to improve air quality.
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