Air Pollution Law

Clean air policies

The law governing air pollution is contained in many UK statutory acts, but also in international treaties as it is a global concern, for the air recognises no political or cultural boundaries that humans project onto the ground. The stated objective of air pollution law is to safeguard or prevent the further contamination of the natural composition of the air, and by doing so to protect human health.

The methodology of air pollution law is to regulate the sources that pollute the air in an attempt to limit the amount of pollution that they impose upon it. The inescapable contemporary issues of climate change, global warming and o-zone depletion impact heavily upon air pollution law. In addition to the UK statues and international treaties, the European Union has also passed directives concerned with aspects of air pollution.

As well as the legislation from the different authorities the UK also has the National Air Strategy, which has a similar role in combating existing pollution and attempting to reduce future pollution. This Strategy includes systems for the effective conditioning of the air by local authorities; each authority is obligated to monitor the air quality in their local area and measure their results against the objectives set out in the governing legislation. Failure to meet these objectives will bring forth a requirement for the local authority to act in a way that will reduce emissions in order to meet the objectives.

A list of UK legislation that covers air pollution in law is as follows:

  1. Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 - amended by the Transport Act 2000
  2. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 - amended by the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999
  3. The Clean Air Act 1993
  4. Environment Act 1995 - provides for the National Air Quality framework
  5. Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (England and Wales) 2000 as amended by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007
  6. Transport Act 2000
  7. Finance Act 2000 - creates the Climate Change Levy which seeks to minimise greenhouse gases
  8. Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 - provides for statutory emissions trading
  9. The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2007 No. 64
  10. The Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2007 No. 717 (W. 63)
  11. The Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations 2007 No. 182
  12. The Air Quality Standards Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007 No. 265
  13. Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007

Air Pollution Sources

Air pollution comes about when substances, such as chemicals, particulate matter (soot) and biological material, are released into the natural composition of the air. The human production of substances that do not comprise a part of the naturally occurring biological make-up of the air is the major cause of air pollution. Legal directive are all designed to regulate these anthropogenic sources of air pollution. There are other natural sources of air pollution, but the most damaging are initiated by man.

Human activities that cause air pollution include:

  • heavy industry and power stations
  • energy use
  • transport
  • waste incineration
  • household activities
  • cigarette Smoke
  • bonfires
  • landfills
  • military activities.

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