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Current Plans to Cut Pollution in The UK


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The UK wastes around £40 Billion each year from air pollution deaths and related illnesses. Diseases like asthma, stroke, lung and heart diseases can all be traced back to air pollution.  Ironically, most of the pollution being witnessed currently is artificial, it is man-made. As such, only man can decide to tackle it and improve the quality of our environment. The UK government and other stakeholders have been in the frontline advocating for green living, living that helps cut pollution.

  • Pollution has not always been a problem in the UK even during the industrial revolution of the 50s. The great smog in England that ultimately covered the skies in the late mid and late 50s was the clearest sign that we were polluting our environment.
  • The first legislation came into place after this incident. It was then that the realities of pollution began to hit England.
  • The smog was due to burning of fossil fuels such as coal to produce electricity. However, it should be noted that during that time, limited knowledge existed on clean, renewable energy sources.
  • Nevertheless, over the years, the United Kingdom has taken quick and rapid measures that have genuinely transformed the country.

Past legislation to curb pollution in the UK

 The Act helped limit smoke emissions and further prohibited the use of bigger chimneys for personal houses. Industries also received a ban barring them from producing dark smoke from their premises; anyone found to flout these rules at the time received hefty penalties or faced jail terms.

dark smoke
Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

In another 1990 Act, the major focus was on the environment. The Act empowered local authorities to take any measures, including fines, on any firm that emitted harmful fumes deemed hazardous to public health. Other measures put in place included the integrated pollution control Act.

The transport sector was not left out. The government set out very stiff measures to curb non-roadworthy vehicles that polluted the environment.

The government then went ahead to introduce exhaust testing for all cars on the motorways.

Significant pollutants such as buses and Lorries had to carry roadside tests certificates that drivers were supposed to carry with them everywhere they went. Besides, hefty fines and penalties were ushered in together with a jail term for noncompliance.

Just recently, in 2015, clean air zones were introduced to improve the quality of air in major cities. Large cities such as London and Birmingham were awash with smog that indicated high levels of pollution. Big vehicles, Lorries, and buses alike were prevented from accessing some parts of the cities.

Local authorities and the police largely enforce these laws and the legislations.

Have these laws Worked to Reduce Pollution in The UK?

Data from one government agency in the UK clearly shows that, since the inspection of pollution legislations were passed, pollution in the United Kingdom has dramatically reduced.

Generally, the UK air is cleaner and citizens are now more aware on the need to maintain clean rivers and lakes.

Current Pollution Measures Taken by the UK

Following the success of older legislations, the government has set new goals to reduce pollution.

  • Current technological changes and new scientific inventions have rendered old fuels obsolete. The government has drafted blueprints on how to achieve these goals.
  • With many resources going to the development of electric vehicles, the government hopes that in the near future, all gas-based cars will be out of roads.
  • To make their plans real, the government has set out 2040 to be the year that all petrol and diesel-based cars will be out of all UK roads.
  • However, due to great dangers associated with diesel fuel, the government hopes to get rid of it by early 2020s.

Another measure in place; farmers making use of wood-burning stoves will face jail terms in the year 2022 if they’ll not have switched to cleaner energy by then.

The government has set out 2022 to be the hallmark year as it targets to reduce air pollution by half.

Importance of Pollution Cutting Moves

  • These legislation are timely as the government wants to cut costs and reduce damages associated with air pollution.
  • The Guardian newspaper reported recently that air pollution is as bad as smoking. It can affect pregnant women and often lead to miscarriages.
  • Thus, we all have an obligation to reduce our industrial and domestic share of harmful emissions.
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