Government shares the blame for the smog, says MEP-candidate
- Green MEP lambasts Government record on air pollution
As Eastern England is hit by a wave of smog today the Green Party's lead-MEP-candidate is calling on the Government to do more to tackle air pollution.
The smog is caused by a combination of local air pollution, particles being blown from Europe and Saharan dust.
A Defra spokeswoman said: "The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara."
Rupert Read, lead Green MEP-candidate here in the East, said:
"We must not let the Government or local authorities hide behind the 'saharan dust' as they try to escape blame for a pollution problem that they're failing to take seriously. 29,000 people die in this country every year because of air pollution, it's high time politicians start taking responsibility."
Keith Taylor, the Green Party's MEP for the neighbouring region of South East England said:
"When pollution levels are this high it is vital that people with health problems take it easy and follow government guidelines.
But, it's also important that at times like this we focus our attention on those responsible for air pollution episodes. We know that part of the problem is caused by Saharan dust but we also know that the UK has an abysmal record in tackling air pollution in our towns and cities. The smog isn't just from the Sahara, it's from our cars and factories too.
The reason that the EU is taking legal proceedings against our Government over air pollution is that we simply aren't doing enough to protect people from this public health threat."
According to forecasts from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the levels of pollutants in the air in some parts of our Region will be at the highest level possible on the measuring scale.
Forecasts, available on the Defra website, show that pollution is set to be at 'level 10'. At this level of pollution the Government advise people to reduce strenuous exercise and those with medical conditions to avoid activity wherever possible.
Last month Keith Taylor MEP suggested that free public transport should be made available on days with high pollution to cut the number of vehicles on the road. He made the proposal after the city of Paris provided free public transport to cut smog levels.
Mr Taylor also highlighted the international nature of the air pollution threat. He said:
"This smog, which is affecting Northern France as well as Southern Britain, shows just how important it is that we work with out European neighbours in creating laws that protect our environment and our health.
Here in the UK we need to take urgent action to reduce pollution levels. That means cutting the number of vehicles in our town centres, especially those with diesel engines and it means seriously investing in alternatives to travelling by car."