The Health Select Committee, with other leading environmental and transport MPs, have launched a joint-inquiry on air quality to examine cross-governmental plans to tackle life-threatening levels of pollution.
Four parliamentary committees including Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Environmental Audit Committee; Health; and Transport will hold four meetings to look at the scientific evidence behind the impact of worsening pollution.
A report from the Royal College of Physicians from last year found that poor air quality is causing 40,000 people to die earlier in the UK each year and costs the UK economy £20bn annually.
The High Court ordered the Government to publish a draft plan to tackle the key pollutant, nitrogen dioxide, by 24 April, with a final plan to be published at the end of July.
Meanwhile the European Commission has also threatened to fine the Government millions of pounds if nothing is done to clear the air in 16 UK zones that are currently above legal pollution limits.
The MPs will look at whether the plans required by the courts in April will be able to, not only meet legal limits, but also produce health benefits.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the health committee said: ‘Poor air quality is affecting on the health of millions of people across the U.K. because of the impact of invisible particulates and other pollutants. Our joint inquiry will include an examination of the scale of the harm caused and the action necessary to tackle it.’
Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee added that lowering pollution levels ‘are not the responsibility of just one minister’.
He said: ‘That’s why we have taken the unprecedented task of convening four select committees so we can scrutinise the Government’s efforts from every angle and look for holistic solutions that are good for health, transport and the environment.’