20/03/2017 10:02 GMT | Updated 20/03/2017 15:47 GMT

Four Committees Probe Government Plans To Cut Air Pollution Amid Health Concerns

Government plans to tackle harmful air pollution that affects millions of people across the UK is to be scrutinised by MPs from four parliamentary committees.

The Environmental Audit Committee, Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Efra), Health, and Transport Committees have combined forces to launch a joint inquiry on air quality.

It comes as the deadline looms for the Government to publish new plans to cut air pollution after previous measures were ruled insufficient by the courts. 

The Government has also been issued with a "final warning" from the European Commission over its failure to meet legal targets to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution, much of which comes from traffic, particularly diesel engines.

The cross-party committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider the mounting evidence of the impacts of of outdoor air pollution.

MPs will examine whether the revised plans will go far enough to cut pollution, not only to meet legal targets but to deliver maximum health and environmental benefits.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the Health Committee, said: "Poor air quality is affecting the health of millions of people across the UK because of the impact of invisible particulates and other pollutants.

"Our joint inquiry will include an examination of the scale of the harm caused and the action necessary to tackle it."

And Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: "The UK courts have twice found that the Government has failed to deal with our air pollution problem properly.

"Now, ministers will face unprecedented scrutiny in Parliament to ensure they finally step up to the mark to ensure adults, and children in particular, do not have their health damaged by filthy air."

The Transport Committee's chairwoman, Louise Ellman, said MPs would be looking at what more could be done to increase the use of cleaner vehicles and sustainable transport.

The convening of four select committees will "scrutinise the Government's efforts from every angle and look for holistic solutions that are good for health, transport and the environment", Efra Committee chairman Neil Paris added.