South West Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has criticised her colleague, Julie Girling MEP, for failing to support measures that would help prevent thousands of premature deaths from air pollution. Ms Girling has sought to water down measures contained in the National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) Directive being voted on today in the European Parliament. Campaign groups argue that up to 74,534 European lives could be saved every year if Member States implement targets proposed in an Environment Committee report, backed by the Greens.

Ms Girling, who is the rapporteur of the report, has sought to block the inclusion of ammonia, methane and mercury targets in the Directive, on the basis this will produce additional ‘administrative and regulatory burdens on industry’, especially farmers. Greens have argued that there is strong scientific evidence of their contribution to air pollution, and that farmers must play their part in reducing dangerous emissions. Dr Scott Cato said:

It is unusual for a rapporteur to vote against the committee position on their report and it shows how Julie Girling has come under pressure from agri-business and refused to support the necessary measures needed to protect people’s health.

“All eyes are on the Volkswagen emissions scandal, but we also need farmers to play their part in the fight against our dangerous air quality and the impact of emissions on climate change. Production of ammonia is a result of intensive farming and overuse of nitrogen fertiliser. Organic farming on the other hand works positively with the soil and greatly reduces emissions. When farming works well, most of the methane produced by animals can be turned into useful biogas. Farms like Wyke Farms in Somerset are leading the way, demonstrating what can be achieved. They are taking manure, slurry and apple pomace amongst other things and converting them into biogas that is then used as energy to power the local village of Bruton.

“The proposals in this Directive aim to ensure the EU matches agreed international standards on emissions and that the negative impacts of emissions on health are reduced by 70%, as defined by the World Health Organisation. Rather than protecting the polluters, the Tories should be backing measures that save lives and improve health.”

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