Urgent action to cut air pollution from farming is vital for healthy wildlife and healthy people. Five months after the launch of the government’s Clean Air Strategy, what’s holding up progress and what can we do about it today #CleanAirDay?
Ammonia emissions from farm animal manures and artificial fertilisers are directly damaging our wildlife, as well as being a major contributor to particulate matter (PM) in urban smogs. Yet, contrary to most other types of pollution, ammonia is almost entirely unregulated and emissions have risen steadily in recent years.
Many farmers want to take action and they can do this in ways that will also help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and clean up our rivers. The Clean Air Strategy committed the government to delivering a promising package of advice, financial support and new regulation to cut ammonia emissions in England. Primary legislation and a new land management scheme are the keys to success here, creating a level playing field for farmers, making the polluter pay and using public money for public goods. But with the Agriculture and Environment Bills stuck in parliament due to Brexit politics, progress has stalled.
Beyond the need for legislation, protecting wildlife from air pollution requires changes in policy, new funding and local action around affected wildlife sites. The Clean Air Strategy set a target to “reduce damaging deposition of reactive forms of nitrogen by 17%” by 2030 and review longer term targets. Five months on, it’s still unclear how the government aims to achieve this. Plantlife is calling for a clear action plan to ensure appropriate regulation so the polluter pays, as well as supporting and advising farmers, nature conservationists and other land managers to deliver practical measures on the ground.
When it comes to air pollution, as with many other environmental issues, time is of the essence. Next week, on Wednesday 26 June, thousands of us will go to Westminster to tell our MPs that #TheTimeIsNow to take determined action for nature, people and our climate. You can take action today – Clean Air Day 2019 - by writing to your MP about these issues and asking them to meet their constituents on the day. If you can make it in person, we look forward to seeing you there!
Jenny Hawley, Senior Policy Officer, Plantlife
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