New Air Quality Bill 'To Improve Health'

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THE lives of people in socially deprived areas will be improved by better air quality, the Assembly was told yesterday.

Environment minister Dermot Nesbitt introduced the Local Air Quality Management Bill, claiming ''clean air is an essential ingredient for good quality of life''.

A new air quality strategy is to be drawn up by the Department of the Environment with the twin aims of improving air quality and avoiding EU fines, the South Down MLA confirmed.

''It is accepted that poor air quality can exacerbate respiratory and heart conditions. For this reason the production of this legislation is one of the Executive's 'Investing in Health' targets,'' Mr Nesbitt said.

''Recent research, which included Belfast, indicated that poorer air quality is frequently found in socially deprived areas. The outcome of this Bill will therefore most significantly improve the air quality of those living and working in these areas.

''Further, the Bill will guard against the possibility of fines coming from Europe which can emerge if a gap exists between European legislation and our own. If this Bill becomes operative by next March as scheduled, this should be sufficient to ensure fines are not levied against Northern Ireland. …