Dirty stoves and open fires banned in pollution battle
WOOD-BURNING stoves are to be targeted in the Government’s “world-leading” war on air pollution, Environment Secretary Michael Gove revealed yesterday.
The stoves and open fires are the single biggest source of particulate matter emissions, blamed for the premature deaths of thousands of people every year.
New laws will ban the sale of the most polluting fuels and ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.
The strategy also includes a £19million research programme for cleaner industrial technologies.
It pledges to halve the number of people living in areas with airborne particulate matter above World Health Organisation guidelines.
Mr Gove also wants to reduce air pollution from agriculture, which is responsible for 88 per cent of all UK emissions of ammonia gas.
This will involve helping farmers to invest in equipment and farming methods to reduce emissions.
Mr Gove said: “The evidence is clear. While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life. While air pollution may conjure images of traffic jams and exhaust fumes, transport is only one part of the story.
“The new strategy sets out the important role all of us, across all sectors of work and society, can play in reducing emissions and cleaning up our air to protect our health.”
Ammonia can combine in the atmosphere with other pollutants to form particulates which are especially dangerous for people with respiratory problems.
Air pollution is one of the UK’s biggest threats to public health behind cancer, obesity and heart disease. Britain is committed to banning the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles from 2040.
It is claimed that cutting air pollution will save Britain £1.7billion a year by 2020, rising to £5.3billion a year from 2030 by reducing sick days and cutting costs to the NHS.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the move by the UK was “an example for the rest of the world to follow”.
But critics said the strategy is nine years late because Britain should have been complying with EU air quality laws from 2010.
It follows three embarrassing defeats for the Government in the courts in the past four years in cases brought by environmental campaigners ClientEarth.
Simon Alcock, the organisation’s head of public affairs, said: “This strategy doesn’t address the huge problem of air pollution from transport that harms people’s health.”
Simon Gillespie of the British Heart Foundation added: “Dirty air now represents one of the greatest public health threats facing our generation.”