May 10th, 2017

Air cover: politics and the air quality plan

by Dominic Hogg


The Government finally published its long awaited revised air quality plan, albeit in draft form, last Friday. Many have expressed disappointment with its lack of ambition, but less has been written about the signs of some key last minute ‘tweaks’. The apparent aim of the late changes was to minimise the risk of a potential political backlash against the plan from angry diesel drivers – but their effect could well be to delay the effective action on air quality that is so urgently needed.

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March 4th, 2016

Every breath we take…

by Philip Insall


Outdoor air pollution, most of it generated by the motors, tyres and brakes of private motor vehicles, is now calculated to be causing at least 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year.  Can you imagine the outcry if this sort of mortality rate was associated with – say – kitchen food waste caddies? Other major causes of death, such as smoking (c.100,000 premature deaths) and obesity (perhaps 30,000) are the target of major public health campaigns. So why is government – national or local – so unwilling to act on air quality?

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November 27th, 2015

Something in the air? The Autumn Statement and pollution


by Dominic Hogg


Wednesday’s joint spending review and Autumn statement (SRAS) ought to give us some insight into the George Osborne’s thinking about the current and future state of the economy, and his priorities for how it should be managed. So what environmental and other implications can we infer from the document and the decisions within it?

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November 13th, 2015

Look, no hands: tackling air pollution and climate change

by Dominic Hogg


If there is a silver lining around the breath-constricting cloud that hangs over Volkswagen (and, perhaps, other manufacturers of diesel vehicles as well), it’s that the publicity raises awareness of the damages caused by air pollution. While a cadre of politicians and journalists strive to maintain the impression that there’s a debate to be had on the science of climate change, there’s far less dissent from the view that air pollution brings a trail of misery, and even death, in its wake.

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July 24th, 2015

Exchequered past: George Osborne and green taxes

by Dominic Hogg


George Osborne’s July Budget was widely seen as his first opportunity to fully reflect the perspective of the Conservative Party in fiscal policy. The trailers to his speech made it quite clear that the Chancellor would break with the coalition’s approach on environmental taxation. So did the July Budget represent a disastrous departure from green taxation?

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October 17th, 2014

Burning rubber: the problem of tyre-fuelled kilns

by Catherine Hansen


The decorative arts of ceramics and pottery have a long and honoured tradition. Whilst we cannot know exactly when the first kilns were built and the first clay fired, some very early examples of pottery have been unearthed in the Middle East, with the most ancient pottery fragments found at Catal Huyuk in Turkey dating from as long ago as 6500BC.

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November 5th, 2013

Bonfire of the profanities


by Chris Sherrington


The whizz and pop of fireworks; sparklers; mulled wine; and of course gathering around the bonfire to keep warm: the annual celebrations on November 5th are a firm favourite in the Sherrington household. For my children it’s all great fun and for me, while I have reservations about what is being celebrated, Guy Fawkes Night evokes happy childhood memories of building and lighting bonfires with my grandfather. For those reasons, although I’m now aware of the damage unrestricted bonfires can do to our health, I wouldn’t want to deny my children the same enjoyment. Refusing them a bonfire on November 5th would be a crime equal to pretending the Tooth Fairy was bankrupt, or setting the dogs on the Easter Bunny. But I would like to see the time around November 5th, and other events of similar importance to communities across the UK, kept as an exception to a wider crackdown on polluting bonfires at other times of the year.

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