A look back at 2020

In spite of all its difficulties, 2020 has been an instrumental year for the Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality. Not only have we officially launched the Commission but brought together six excellent chairs to lead our working parties: Air Health, Air Monitoring, Education, Energy, Fuels & Vehicles, Planning, and Research. Between the launch meetings and first ever members’ meetings in December, each group has compiled a complete set of air quality objectives.

Air Health, chaired by Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, has called for a stronger air pollution narrative, pulling together a group of key charitable organisations to highlight the issue poor air quality pose to public health. Dr. Suzanne Bartington, the University of Birmingham, and Dr. Ian Mudway, Imperial College, have been significant voices in Air Health meetings, and will raise important messages that should be circulated in Parliament.

Air Monitoring, chaired by Dr. Roland Leigh, has underlined the need to strengthen MOT emission testing, and the need to consider strategic air monitor distribution to protect the most vulnerable in local communities. Key voices in this working party include Ralph Wilce, Wijs-Air and John Saffell, CoGDEM Chairman and Alphasense CTO.

Education, chaired by Trewin Restorick, has highlighted the need to send a coherent and strong message out to schools, particularly at primary stage, and within medical schools in order to raise awareness of the risks air pollution pose. SKIPS Education is a key player in this group, working to provide knowledge and equipment to primary schools.

Energy, Fuels and Vehicles, chaired by Richard Wenham, has focussed on the issues surrounding drop-in fuels, EVs, hydrogen and their place in the future of the HGV fleet. Key members include Allison Transmission, Biffa, and Ubico.

Research, chaired by Dr. James Tate, raised four key areas: the problem of highly polluting vehicles; occupational hazard of drivers being exposed to low air quality; providing an environment to nurture new vehicles; and bus reforms with DEFRA and DfT. Dr. Sophie Duggan, AirSafe and Ricardo have been key voices in these meetings.