Environmental Protection UK

Environmental Protection UK

Environmental Protection UK is a UK environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) working in the fields of air quality, noise and land quality. It was formally known as the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (NSCA), changing its name as part of a strategic review in 2007.

The organisation traces it's routes back to the foundation of the Coal Smoke Abatement Society (CSAS) set up in 1898, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, environmental NGOs. CSAS was founded by London based artist Sir William Blake Richmond, who became frustrated by low light levels in the winter caused by coal smoke. In an 1898 letter to the Times calling for action Sir William said, 'the darkness was comparable to a total eclipse of the sun'.

Over the following decades the organisation was instrumental in the introduction of the 1926 Public Health (Smoke Abatement Act) and the 1956 Clean Air Act. The latter started life as a private members Bill promoted by Sir Gerald Nabarro in the aftermath of the Great London Smog of 1952. This event saw the deaths of between 4,000 and 12,000 peopleFact|date=October 2007 as a direct result of air pollution. The original Act was updated by the 1968 and 1993 Clean Air Acts. One major consequence of these Acts is that considerable areas of the UK have been declared as Smoke Control Areas where the use of certain fuels is either prohibited or only allowed in special appliances.

As the menace of coal smoke receded the society changed its name (to the National Society for Clean Air) and its focus, and in the 1970s began to campaign vigorously on air pollution from industry and, increasingly, transport.

During this period membership was mainly (although far from exclusively) drawn from local authorities, with some industrial membership. Perhaps the main achievement of the Society after the Clean Air Acts was the development of the concept of Local Air Quality Management and the incorporation of this in the Environment Act 1995. The original Environment Bill was intended to deal with issues such as the establishment of the Environment Agency, contaminated land, National Parks and waste topics.

Through the good offices of two of the Society’s Vice-Presidents (Lord Lewis of Newnham and Lord Nathan) an amendment to the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords (where the Bill began its life) to add what is now Part IV of the Act, Air Quality. The arguments in favour of the amendment persuaded the Government of the day to accept it as part of its own legislative programme by incorporating it in the substantive Bill. The Society assisted in the drafting of the legislation through its Air Quality Committee, a body set up in 1992 to draw together the air quality experts who were either individual members of the Society or, more usually, employees of corporate members such as local authorities.

Since the Act received its Royal Assent in 1995 the Society, through the Air Quality Committee, has been instrumental in producing supplementary guidance documents to assist local authorities in implementing Local Air Quality Management. Although the Government had produced technical and policy guidance this still left some grey areas because such national guidance inevitably could not deal with every eventuality. Initially the NSCA guidance addressed the processes of assessing air quality problems and the thorny questions surrounding the declaration of Air Quality Management Areas. A second round of guidance looked at the development of Air Quality Action Plans. More recent guidance has addressed the thornier problems of incorporating air quality into the local development control planning regime.

Although Environmental Protection UK was founded to tackle air pollution, it has made and continues to make a significant contribution to the fields of noise and contaminated land, possibly reflecting some of the concerns of the local authority members. That said; air quality is still at the heart of the organisation’s work programme.

Air quality continues to be a major problem in the UK, despite opinions given from time to time that it is ‘fixed’. Currently the Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP) estimates that approximately 24,000 deaths per year are advanced due to the effects of “normal” UK concentrations of air pollution. In hot years such as 2003 this figure may have been even larger.

In 2006 the then NSCA recognised that it's work was spread too widely and that its structure and governance were in need of modernisation. The organisation therefore began a root and branch review of its operations which resulted in a refresh of its governance and a new 5 year strategy named 'Future Focus'. The new strategy saw the organisation focus down to three key areas where it could make a significant contribution - air quality and climate change, noise and land quality. Finally it was felt that the organisation's name was unrepresentative of its range of work, and the decision was therefore made to change it to Environmental Protection UK.

Modern Environmental Protection UK continues to have significant membership amongst local authorities but also has a substantial contribution from consultants, academics, private individuals and industry. The organisation has 7 divisions in England and a division each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Head office is based in Brighton employing a small permanent staff; the society also has an office in Glasgow.

Deborah Kerr who starred in 'The King and I' was patron of the organisation from 1992 until her death on October 16, 2007.

ee also

*Air pollution
*Atmospheric dispersion modeling
*Emission standard
*European emission standards
*Pollutant Standards Index
*Air Quality Index

External links

* [http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk The Environmental Protection UK website]
* [http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/airquality/index.htm UK Government (DEFRA)Air Quality Site]
* [http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/index.htm EU Air Quality Site]
* [http://www.uwe.ac.uk/aqm/ The Air Quality Management Resources Centre at the University of the West of England]
*The pollution index of the [http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/environment/aq/index.html UK Met Office]
* [http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/comeap/ The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution]

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