Over 30 organisations demand stronger Environment Bill
Published: 20 Nov 2023
The legislation does not go far enough, even with the amendments that have been made so far, according to clean air campaigners.
In an open letter, published today (21 November 2023), the group of health and environmental organisations urge Senedd members to support Healthy Air Cymru’s call for the Environment Bill to include an air quality target for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Joseph Carter, Chair of Healthy Air Cymru and Head of Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, said:
“Nitrogen dioxide is a poisonous gas that comes out of the exhausts of cars and other vehicles when they are running. It can irritate the lining of your airways and make them more inflamed. People with lung and heart conditions, and children, whose lungs and brain are still developing, are particularly susceptible. This is why it’s so important we set targets for NO2. People’s lives depend on it."
Haf Elgar, Vice Chair of Healthy Air Cymru and Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said:
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clean up our air, so we need to have targets for NO2 and other dangerous pollutants, not just PM 2.5. For the sake of our children, our vulnerable communities, and our planet, we urge Senedd members to vote for a stronger Environment Bill.”
Air pollution contributes to the deaths of around 2000 people a year in Wales and is a public health crisis. It disproportionately impacts our children and young people and our most vulnerable communities the most, and climate-changing emissions are bad for nature and the health of our planet.
The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill, first introduced to the Senedd in March 2023, aims to reduce the impact of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment, and our economy.
Ministers will have a duty to set air quality targets for PM 2.5 (tiny particles), and to set this PM 2.5 target with regard to the latest World Health Organisation guidelines, but currently there is no duty on this or future governments to set targets for such a dangerous pollutant as nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The stage 3 debate on the Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill takes place on 21 November, and we expect the bill to be passed before the end of the year and get Royal Assent in early 2024.