ES Views: Court forces Government to act now on pollution

Air pollution over the capital: PA

I welcome the High Court’s decision to throw out the Government’s feeble attempt to delay publishing proper plans to tackle our toxic air pollution until after the election [Online, April 27].

New research shows just how lethal vehicle emissions are: pollution nanoparticles enter directly into the bloodstream from the lungs and these contribute to the deaths of more than 9,000 Londoners a year.

Most of our air pollution comes from diesel vehicles and the Government needs to get going with a diesel scrappage scheme, as the Mayor has been pushing for.

The Government urgently needs to produce a new Clean Air Act that should give the Mayor additional powers to act decisively for Londoners and protect our health.
Caroline Russell, London Assembly Green Party Group

Last week (Monday April 24) there was an astonishing admission from Andrea Leadsom MP in the House of Commons about delaying Defra’s application of its plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide, something many — including the EU — had been waiting several years for.

Ministers are now also accused of bullying judges over delaying curbs on toxic air [April 26]. So we have the Government delaying putting a plan into place despite legal action being taken against it twice before. It was meant to have been lodged with the Supreme Court on Monday but the Government appealed for a postponement until after the election, when these plans should have been in place in 2010.

Our knowledge of the adverse impact air pollution has on our lives — particularly on the young, old and vulnerable — has increased substantially and a seven-year delay in responding to the requirements of having a NO2 plan is not good enough.

The Government’s abandonment of its responsibilities and lack of action has ensured it will become a major issue in the general election.
Murad Qureshi

It is excellent news that the Government must now release its air pollution plans before the general election in June.

It would be better still, however, to have an explanation as to why, at the final Department for Transport meeting last Friday, assurances were given that environmental issues relating to a third Heathrow runway were well in hand when, at the same time, Defra was at the High Court seeking to delay publication of this important document.

It is also essential for all parties to note that there will be little time for responders to the current Airports Expansion consultation to absorb the details of the new publication before the deadline for comments on May 25.
Rev Andrew McLuskey

Hounslow Heath is under threat

It was heartwarming to read that Sir David Attenborough is urging us to protect Richmond Park, not just for today but for the benefit of future generations [“(Park) Life on earth”, April 26]. The support given to Sir David in your editorial gives hope that this might be achieved.

Unfortunately, another iconic landscape is under serious threat as the Planning Inspectorate has recently rejected Hounslow council’s objection to the development of an adventure theme park on Hounslow Heath, an area of outstanding natural beauty and varied wildlife. At least 132 species of birds, 330 types of plant life and a diverse range of insects and animals, many very rare, can be found there.

Residents will doubtless be re-igniting a campaign to save the Heath but it would be encouraging to know that influential figures such as Sir David could support this worthy cause. In Hounslow, as in Richmond, it is surely vitally important that our heritage is cherished and protected.

Once our heritage is lost, it is lost for ever. We must not allow that to happen.
Pete Harding

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Nurses' low pay is damaging for all

When the Government gave nursing staff another real-terms pay cut this month, the Royal College of Nursing asked all 270,000 of its members in a poll how they wanted to respond.

They are beyond disappointed by six years of real-term pay cuts. Over the same period, pressure in hospital and community nursing reached unprecedented levels, meaning they are working harder than ever. In the online poll they have a chance to vote to take strike action or refuse to work unpaid overtime.

With the upcoming general election, there is no better time to hold politicians to account for their decisions. The one per cent pay cap for nursing staff is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS that is as damaging for patient care as it is for nurses themselves.

Nurses are not taking this action lightly and the wellbeing of patients will always be top priority. However, too many nurses are struggling to make ends meet and they should not have to cover the NHS deficit from their own pay packet.
Cynthia Davis, board chair, Royal College of Nursing

EU nations have an agenda too

Theresa May’s complaint that the EU’s 27 nations are “ganging up” against Britain ready for the Brexit negotiations is either shamefully ignorant or cynical rabble-rousing. What did the Government expect when pressing the Brexit button?

The UK’s exit terms are importantly, though not exclusively, a trade issue; negotiating a new bilateral trade deal will be wholly about trade. In negotiations, the EU member states are required to negotiate according to a common position that has been settled through clearly prescribed processes, and with the European Commission speaking with a single voice on behalf of all. Legally, this is what the EU-27 will have to do in the Brexit negotiations.

Rather than stamping their feet and shouting, British politicians would do much better to recognise that, as in any other negotiations, the other side also has legitimate views, pressures and objectives that have to be recognised and taken into account.
Michael Johnson

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TV to blame for less exciting title race

Most football fans would agree with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte that playing the last three games of the season at the same time would be the best ending for the title race. Unfortunately, managers often forget that TV companies control the timing of fixtures and it is in their interest to stagger Chelsea and Tottenham’s games as the title race reaches its final stages to achieve maximum viewing figures.

As we saw with Manchester City’s Premier League triumph in 2012, when matches are played simultaneously it certainly increases the tension and excitement, as well as eradicating any opportunity for match-fixing.

While I have no doubt we will be treated to some fascinating action, we won’t have the same experience this season — and it is the TV chiefs who are to blame.
Gary Hardman

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