The Government has launched an inquiry into air quality in the UK.

The Environment, Food And Rural Affairs committee will look at four key aspects under its remit as the body responsible for ensuring that the nation can breathe clean air.

The department is currently consulting on how the UK can meet EU Directive requirements for limiting emissions of nitrogen dioxide.

It is also looking into tackling harmful levels of pollution from transport, energy, and farming sectors.

The recently approved Enderby Wharf cruise terminal has caused serious concern among Tower Hamlets and Greenwich residents due to the further emissions it will bring to the area.

Chair of the committee Neil Parish said: “Air-borne pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulates and sulphur dioxide damage people’s health and the UK’s environment. But the UK is failing to meet EU air pollution limits.

“Defra has to set out by the end of the year its plans for ensuring that the UK will comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits.

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“We will explore how effectively the Department’s plans, including for Clean Air Zones, will reduce this key pollutant.

“But we also want to explore how well Defra is leading action to tackle air pollution more widely, whether from the transport, industry or farming sectors.”

The committee will look at the following:

Defra’s Role:

  • Do Defra’s proposals for reducing emissions of key pollutants, including NO2, go far enough and fast enough to meet EU standards?
  • How effectively does Defra collaborate with and coordinate action with local authorities, devolved administrations, and other government departments to develop coherent strategies for reducing emissions of key air pollutants?

Transport Emissions:

  • Are the correct incentives in place to support consumers and businesses in reducing transport emissions, for example to move away from diesel and petrol vehicles towards low emission options or to promote other forms of transport?
  • Do recently highlighted disparities between laboratory and real-world emissions from vehicles mean that Defra should remodel the assumptions behind its plans to meet EU requirements?

Industrial emissions:

  • How robust is Defra’s regulation, via the Environment Agency, for monitoring and reducing air pollution generated by industrial processes?

Farming Emissions:

  • Are Defra’s policies for reducing emissions of key pollutants and greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector sufficiently ambitious and robust?