Calls to tackle air pollution from construction sites

Published:  07 May, 2017

Former Deputy Mayor of London for Environment, Matthew Pencharz, believes the UK government must do more to tackle the problem of air pollution from construction sites

Mr Pencharz commented after the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) published the consultation on its new UK Air Quality Plan.

Mr Pencharz, current director of Off Grid Energy, believes more needs to be done to encourage local authorities to introduce and have the powers to enforce environmental regulations on construction sites to push the utilisation of clean technologies, after describing the Air Quality Plan as disappointingly unambitious.

Construction sites are important sources of pollution in towns and cities across the UK. In London, for example, construction equipment accounts for 7% of emissions, leading to unacceptably high NO2 concentrations.

"It is disappointing that in its new consultation to deliver the reductions in air pollution the UK needs, the government is not doing more to push the utilisation of clean technologies on construction sites to save both money and emissions and stimulate this high value manufacturing sector, said Mr Pencharz, who brought in the Greater London Authority's (GLA) regulations for construction equipment while he was Deputy Mayor of London for Environment.

The GLA brought in regulations in 2015 to begin the cleaning up of construction sites, but in the consultation the government is only talking about regulations which, from 2019, would only apply to new machines, without addressing the thousands of older, high polluting ones.

In addition, other local authorities do not appear to be being encouraged to bring in London-style regulations and, even if they did, any enforcement powers remain weak. Mr Pencharz stated that the government should be proposing to give strong enforcement powers to local authorities wishing to regulate construction equipment operating in their areas and work closely with organisations like the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) to solve this problem.

"The challenge to deliver clean air creates a huge opportunity for the UK's high value manufacturing sector but it does need reasonable and pragmatic regulation to stimulate the deployment of technologies," finished Mr Pencharz.

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