Summary of UK Parliament Air Quality Research Briefing

  • Health Concerns and Policy Implications – Air quality continues to be “the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK”. The COVID-19 pandemic has also raised questions about the link between poor air quality and COVID-19 outcomes (and therefore wider health impacts).

  • Governance and Enforcement – Following Brexit, environmental law, regulations and policy are no longer subject to EU oversight. This change may lead to shifts in how air quality regulations are monitored and enforced, potentially affecting developers and planners in terms of compliance requirements and enforcement mechanisms.
  • Changes to EU Air Quality Standards and Objectives – The European Commission intends to revise the Ambient Air Quality Directive to align air quality standards with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, which are much tougher. It is likely that the UK will follow, and we have already seen some Councils, such as London Borough of Camden, adopt stricter limits. As such, the constraint posed by air quality is likely to vary significantly from borough to borough.
  • EU Infringement Proceedings and Judicial Reviews – The UK has faced EU infringement proceedings and private judicial reviews related to its failure to meet air quality targets. These legal challenges have resulted in the government being required to produce air quality plans aimed at reducing pollutant levels. Fines may still be imposed – although it’s not clear legally whether the UK could be forced to pay, following Brexit.

The full report is available here:

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