Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to the call to action from the four House of Commons committees which have joined forces to demand the Government address the “national health emergency” of poor quality air:
“The Institution of Mechanical Engineers supports this move from the Environmental Audit Committee, the Health Committee, the Transport Committee and the Environment Committee. We have been raising awareness of this issue for some time.
“Our latest A Breath of Fresh Air report released in January this year called for a Clean Air Act, and went further to call for a coherent and consistent monitoring of transport emissions so informed targets can be set. We recommended incentives for freight deliveries outside peak hours and highlighted the potential to retrofit diesel trains to cut emissions while trains are standing at platforms.
“The House of Commons report suggests that the Government should align its climate change schemes, urban planning, public transport and fiscal incentives with air quality goals to prevent Government policy from working at cross-purposes and we fully support this level of systems thinking.
“In particular, we would like to see the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs work with the Department for Transport to introduce emission monitoring equipment across our transport network (e.g. in streets, underground stations, enclosed railway stations, ports, airports) along with real-time on-vehicle monitoring.
“This will provide us with a complete picture of our baseline pollutants, which would enable us to monitor peaks throughout the day. This new monitoring system will need to record all types of pollution including oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and ultra-fine particles (UFP). These data will provide a baseline for our emissions and enable prioritisation of investment schemes to tackle pollutants in a logical, evidence-based way.”