New all-party Parliamentary group to target air pollution

A new all-party Parliamentary group of MPs has been set up by the House of Commons to look at how issues of air pollution can be addressed. The group, which held its inaugural meeting this week, is chaired by MP for Greenwich,  Labour's Matthew Pennycock. The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) is providing the secretariat for the new group.

The EIC's executive director, Matthew Farrow, said: "This is a good time for MPs to be looking at air pollution issues in depth, getting to grips with the causes and what can be done about it. Awareness and interest in the dangers to health being caused by airborne pollutants and particulates has been growing as wider media coverage has been attracted. It's a very complex issue, however. It will not be easy to solve."

At the beginning of this year it was revealed that London exceeded its annual allowable quantity of air pollution in just a few weeks. The city is recognised as one of the most heavily polluted by traffic fumes in Europe. The Volkswagen emmissions scandal has attracted further media coverage of the problem. As a result, knowledge widely held in the automotive industry has reached mainstream media – that diesel engines in cars tested to European standards in laboratory conditions produce far higher dangerous emissions out on the road. Other factors are known to contribute significantly to urban air pollution, however, including the weather and local emissions from diesel engines on construction sites.

The new all-party Parliamentary group has three vice chairs: Conservative MP for Suffolk and North Ipswich, Daniel Poulter; Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, Helen Hayes; and Liberal Democrat Peer, Baroness Sheehan.