The Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality (WCRAQ) recently celebrated three years of air quality achievements, with a record attendance of more than 100 guests at its Annual Parliamentary Reception, held at the Houses of Parliament on January 9.
The work of the Commission, headed by Barry Sheerman MP over the previous three years, culminated in the Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality’s Annual Parliamentary Reception, held at the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament. More than a hundred guests from the air quality and automotive industries, as well as senior politicians, joined the reception to celebrate its progress towards cleaner air.
WCRAQ co-founder Sally Cumner said: ‘We created the Commission after almost two years of investigations into air quality issues in the UK as we realised our Government wasn’t addressing these. It was wonderful to see so many of our members, including MPs, Lords and senior air quality academics, face-to-face in the splendid surroundings of Parliament on the Thames. It was a real testament to our achievements over the last couple of years, working under the challenging circumstances of Covid and not being able to meet each other in person.’
Founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation and Air Quality activist Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah also attended the event. She told the audience the moving story of her daughter Ella, the first person to have air pollution recorded on her death certificate, and her relentless fight to pass Ella’s Law, also called the Clean Air Bill, through the House of Commons. The Bill would create a human right to breathe clean air and require the Government to achieve clean air much sooner than their current targets.
It has passed all its stages in the House of Lords and will come to the House of Commons, where Caroline Lucas MP will take it through its stages.
DPF Bill and local authority air quality audit Bill
‘Human beings have an inalienable right to breathe clean air,’ said WCRAQ Chairman Barry Sheerman during his welcome speech. ‘The Westminster Commission has worked tirelessly to make this a reality. Over the last three years, we have held over 80 working party meetings. We have asked over 100 air quality-related questions in Parliament and sent seven letters to senior government officials, generating cross-party support from MPs and Peers.
‘We tabled our diesel particulate testing at MOT Bill and our local authority air quality audit Bill. These are still ongoing in Parliament, and I will do my second reading for the DPF bill very soon. I hope that the Government will commit to supporting the Bill. I have had good conversations with officials from the relevant Departments.
‘Within Parliament, we have seen the stark reality of the scale of air pollution. Since June, I have been recording air pollution in Parliament with a handheld air quality monitor and a large state-of-the-art device in my office on the fifth floor of Portcullis House. Air pollution on the parliamentary estate is consistently above the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit. The average level of PM2.5 on the estate was 5.3 micrograms per cubic centimetre. That is above the World Health Organisation’s recommended limit of 5.
‘More worryingly, there were significant spikes; the highest ever reading came in at 8.65 micrograms per cubic centimetre, and during the summer heat, there was a 14-day period when average daily levels of PM2.5 remained at 5.3 or above. That is remarkable. In my office, nitrogen dioxide levels were, on average, four times above the WHO guidelines. In the entire monitoring period, nitrogen dioxide was never at a safe level.’
Richard Taylor, Sales and Marketing Director, Dennis Eagle, commented: ‘Dennis Eagle is proud to be part of the Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality. It is an important cause, and we were delighted to attend the Parliamentary reception to discuss air quality issues with key stakeholders and industry colleagues.’
Andrew Gordon, Project Manager [Pan-London NRMM] Regulatory Services Partnership, Merton Council, commented: ‘Both Caspar and myself had an enriching evening. Every conversation and every introduction was full of a genuine passion for the topic and charged with a positive collaborative tone. It was also a room full of practical people with an evident track record for delivering real-world change, so thanks very much for all your work in facilitating such an event and bringing us all together.’
Arend Mouton, Group Services, Wates Group, commented: ‘It was great to see everyone involved for such an incredible cause. It focused my resolve to do more to support the clean air agenda, 100%.’
If you want to see what the Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality has achieved, watch the video via the link below.
To become a member and help clear up the air we breathe, contact Jason Pidgeon today at firstname.lastname@example.org.