The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has avoided taking any blame for the smog currently hitting the UK.
In an interview BBC1 Mr Cameron said:
“I didn’t go for my morning run this morning. I chose to do some work instead. You can feel it.
But it’s a naturally occurring weather phenomenon. It sounds extraordinary, Saharan dust, but that is what it is.”
Mr Cameron’s comments come despite officials from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs saying that the UK’s pollution problem was partly to blame. Yesterday a Defra spokesperson said:
“The high level of air pollution this week is due to a combination of local emissions, light winds, pollution from the continent and dust blown over from the Sahara.”
Keith Taylor, a Green Party Member of the European Parliament and Clean Air Campaigner, responded to David Cameron’s comments. He said:
“In the last 10 years air pollution has contributed to nearly 300,000 deaths in the UK, that’s the equivalent of the amount of people living in a city the size of Newcastle.
Yet, despite the ongoing threat of air pollution and the fact that the EU is taking legal proceedings against the UK on this issue, the Prime Minister has the audacity to lay the entire blame for the smog on Saharan dust.
We know that the dust was a contributing factor, and one which we have no control over. But the Government also know that 80 deaths every day in the UK are caused by air pollution, and that we simply aren’t doing enough to tackle the smog coming from our cars and factories.
The Prime Minister’s flippant response to this invisible killer is utterly disgraceful. Officials from his own Government are saying that local air pollution is part of the reason for the smog we’re breathing in, yet he’s blaming it all on Saharan Dust.
The reason the EU is taking legal action against the UK is that the government simply isn’t doing enough to tackle the problem. We need urgent action on air pollution. That means cutting down the diesel fumes in our towns and cities, and investing in clean, affordable public transport options.
David Cameron needs to stop shirking responsibility and start taking action now on air pollution. To wilfully ignore this threat to our health is unforgivable.”
1) 29,000 people die every year because of air pollution: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1317137020357