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Environmental Law and Governance

Environmental Law and Governance

There has been many policy initiatives, legislations, laws etc. that helps in dealing with the issue of air pollution in UK. But, there are loopholes and drawbacks in many of them. So, the aim of this report is to develop a policy proposal or a legislative initiative that details the principles, standards and instruments as well as implementation strategy for action Vis a Vis the environmental issue of air pollution in the country UK. The proposal begins with defining the context of the problem of air pollution, and then lays the general actions and principles to deal with the issue and finally, the proposal talks about the specific instruments and budget that will be used to implement this policy in a proper manner.

Problem context

The environmental issue of air pollution in UK

The quality of the life of people is affected by the Air pollution, the noise that comes from the traffic, the litter on the streets etc. When these things remain unchecked, the pollution gets built up and then the anti-social behavior gets generated. This is a very serious crime as well as a very serious issue. It has been estimated in UK that the annual cost of the noise that comes from the road transport is almost £7-10 billion and also the authorities have found that there is a link between the noise of the road traffic and the various illness that people suffer from like the heart strokes and the heart attacks (Graf, 2016). There is a direct effect of the air pollution on the life of the people and the well-being of the people is also affected. Almost 30,000 people die each year due to the air pollution (Atkinson, 2015) and for the others, their life expectancy gets reduced. Not only the humans, but the biodiversity also gets affected due to the air pollution like the yield of the crops gets reduced and the climate changes, etc. The main cause of the air pollution is the emissions from the harmful pollutants and the increase in the concentration of the harmful pollutants in the environment.

There are different forms of pollutants present in the air that are harmful for the life as well as for the eco-system. There is a fine particulate matter present in the air that is capable of causing the premature death and is also harmful for the cardiovascular system. This leads to increase in the admission of the people into the hospitals and more number of people start visiting the emergency wards of the hospitals due to the heart attacks and the heart strokes. Many people become victims of the frequent asthma attacks too. The fine particles impair the visibility of the people. These are mainly emitted from the gaseous emissions like the nitrogen oxides and the sulfur dioxide. Then, the lead pollution in the air affects the neuro system of the children and they suffer from the behavioral problems, the IQ level of the children reduces too and the adults are faced with the high blood pressure and the various heart related diseases (Samoli, 2016). Carbonmonoixde which is again emitted from the vehicles is also a very harmful airpollutant that causes many respiratory and heart disease among the people.

This is the main problem that the country is facing and apart from the air pollution caused by the vehicles on the road, the country is also faced with the pollution which is caused by the industries and the factories.

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The existing legislation and policies

There is an Environment Act enacted in 1995 which requires all the local authorities in UK to review and assess the quality of air in their area (Lorenzoni, 2014). In case of any standards being exceeded or not met in an area,the area gets designated as theAir Quality Management Area and then it becomes the responsibility of the local authority to reduce the level of pollutants there. The copies of the reviews and assessments are made by the local authorities regarding the local air quality and it is made available to the public. They have to tell that which is the main thing that contributes to the level of pollution and accordingly actions are taken against the source of pollution. In December 2015, the government of UK launched a consultation on the Local Air Quality Management, where the scope of the policy was expanded, and the aim was to target the reduction of the PM2.5 emissions. The roles and the responsibilities of the local authorities were redefined and they were strengthened.

There have been well-established international and the European standards of the air quality that helps in monitoring and assessing the quality of air in the country UK and the emissions and the concentrations of the air pollution are reported annually to the European Commission (EC) (Heinzerling, 2013).Then,the country has also published its strategy on the national air quality in two volumes since 2007. The strategy aims to work on the various fronts to improve the quality of the air, like reducing the emissions from the transport, industries etc. (Guerreiro, 2013). The daily forecasts of the air pollution are published so that the health advice can be given to the people accordingly and those who already suffer from the lung problems can take care of their health.

General actions and principles

General actions and principles proposed by the law/policy

The policy to control the air pollution in UK involves approaches in three forms and areas:

  1. Policy to tackle the harmful pollutants in the air
  2. Policy that controls the pollution at the source of its generation
  3. Policy to tackle the polluted areas

Under the first approach, the policy proposes making the environmental audit mandatory where the industries that create pollution submit their environment statements at the end of every year. This will act as a regulatory requirement and the industries will become responsible for abatement of the pollution too. In the first approach only, the policy proposes to improve the quality of the fuel as per the specifications laid down by the experts. The experts have recommended that the fuel used in vehicles should have a particular level of sulphur and gasoline and the policy aims to follow those specifications in the fuel.

Under the second approach, the policy proposes to control the pollution level at the source of its generation by specifying the standards as per which the pollutants will be discharged and the emissions will happen. The industries pollute the air as much as they want and the more their manufacture, morethe pollution is created. But, when the standards of the pollution will be specified, they will generate the pollution as per the standard specified and the control will be able to get exercised at the point of generation of the pollution.

Under the third approach, the policy proposes to tackle the polluted areas and aims to monitor the quality of the air in the different parts of the country. In this, the concerted efforts will be put in those areas that are identified as polluted by the established agencies. He cleaning of the air in these areas will be carried out. These areas will be regulated and the limits will be set on the release of pollutants. Also, these areas will be made vehicle free so that the further deterioration does not happen. The regular inspections will be arranged here so that the business complies with the regulations of the air pollution. In case these regulations are found to be violated, then the inspector who will be responsible for the regulations will issue a notice against the polluter and he will have to fix the problem and many also have to pay a fine in case the pollution is too much.

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Intended Impact of the law/policy

The first approach that aims to tackle the harmful pollutants in the air intends to limit the number and quantity of the pollutants in the air. It intends to reduce the content of lead in the air, recycle the wastes, reduce the content of sulphur and improve the industrial processes by introducing the cleaner fuels. This policyalso intends to make the industries responsible for abating the pollution that they are creating.

The second approach to control the pollution at the source intends to minimize the generation of the harmful pollutants that create pollution. The main aim of this approach is to save the government and the pollution generators to make extra efforts in cleaning the air after it gets polluted. If the pollution gets controlled at the time of generation only, then there will not be any need for cleaning the environment and the time and cost will be saved.

The third approach that aims to tackle the polluted areas intends to clean those areas that are already affected the most by this pollution. It is very important to save these areas from further deterioration and thus this policy is important to implement. If these areas are not tackled, then the pollution will keep on increasing here and the people who live here or are exposed to this area will have to bear the causes of this pollution.

Parties targeted by the law/policy

  1. Industries- the industries that are involved in the process of manufacturing and they release harmful substances in the air are targeted by this policy. This is because, they need to be regulated and monitored for creating the pollution and they must be allowed to create pollution up to a certain limit only.
  2. Citizens- the people use and drive the vehicles on road those also contribute to pollution. By regulating the gases used in the vehicles, these people are targeted indirectly. They must be aware of the fact that they also contribute to the pollution in the air and they should be sensitive to this issue. They should not be allowed to use too much vehicles and they must also take care of the fuel that they are using in their vehicles.
  3. The regulatory authorities- these have to be targeted because they are the ones who will monitor and regulate the spread and emission of the pollution in the air. If they will do their work carefully then only the policy will become useful to implement.
  4. The environment department of the country- this department is targeted by the policy because they have to measure the level of pollution and they have to take care of the environment. So, if they are targeted then they will be involved with all the initiatives under this policy.

Actions for monitoring and addressing non-compliance

The following actions will be taken if the parties do not comply with the requirements of the policy:

  • If the industries that create pollution fail to submit their environment statements at the end of every year, then a fine up to 60% of their worth of manufacturing will be imposed along with the suspension of the work till the time they abate the pollution or start the activities that will help in reduction of the pollution within 2 months from failure of submission of the statements.
  • If the fuel used in vehicles exceeds a particular level of sulphur and gasoline, as specified, then the users of the vehicles will have to pay a fine for emitting extra pollutants in the air. Also, the suppliers of the fuel will be penalized and their license to sell the fuel will becancelled for 3 consecutive years.
  • The permits of generating pollution will be given under the second approach that will depend on the type of the pollutants that are released in the air and the generation of pollution has to be as per the permits granted. Any industry or factory that will be found to generate pollution beyond the permit limit will be penalized with the fine according to the limit that it crosses and the extent to which the damage to the air is caused. This will be measured by the environment department. Also, in addition to the fine, the industry will be given the task to clean the air for the area that it has polluted and for the five other most polluted areas in the city.

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Specific instruments and budget

This policy mainly aims to regulate the industries, vehicles, and the sources of pollution. The policy proposes to make the environmental audit mandatory where the industries that create pollution submit their environment statements at the end of every year, the policy proposes to control the pollution level at the source of its generation by specifying the standards as per which the pollutants will be discharged and the emissions will happen and the policy proposes to tackle the polluted areas and aims to monitor the quality of the air in the different parts of the country.

So, the main things that are to be taken care in this policy includes that the industries comply with the emission ceilings and they generate pollution to a level as permitted. The emissions that are mainly covered under this policy are the harmful particles that cause the deterioration of the health of people and decay the biodiversity. These policies mainly focus to eliminate the particle pollution which is also called the particulate matter. It is made of the small piece of the solids and liquids that includes the dirt, dust, smoke, soot and the liquid drops. Some of these particles are big and they are visible with the naked eyes. The industries are responsible for these particles. When the people of the country breathe these pollutants, which are also called PM10then they suffer from the lung and heart diseases (Godish, 2014). Thus, the policy focuses to reduce or eliminate these particles from the air.

The ceilings of the emissions will be defined by the department of the environment as well as the other regulatoryauthorities. They will not be fixed. The permits will depend on the level of current pollution in the air and it will also depend on the urgency of the manufacturing activities. For example, during the new year when there are a lot of crackers busted in air, then the permits will be reduced and the permission to generate pollution by the industries and the fuels will be reduced. This is because, there is already a lot of pollution in the environment and the industries will add to it further. But, in case the goods need to be exported to other countries and the balance of trade of the country is deterioration, so there will be requirement for more production activities to take place. In this case, the permits will be increased and the industries will be encouraged to produce more so that exports of the country rise. Also, when the manufacturing will rise, there will be more need for transpiration and accordingly, the pollution from the vehicles will rise. So, at that time, the authorities will not focus on tackling the source of pollution or regulating the manufacturing activities of few industries, instead, it will focus on the abatementof the pollution and then the focus will shift from regulation to abatement. The industries will also be encouraged to develop ways to abate the pollution and install the machines that generate very less wastages and pollution.

The main instruments that will use to ensure the regulation is the fine and the suspension of the activities and license to produce. This will ensure that the industries take care of tem manufacturing activities and they do not try to break the regulations or the limits that have been set by the respective regulatory authorities. This is a form of tax that they will pay if they generate pollution beyond a particular level.

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Conclusion

Hence, the issue of air pollution is big in UK and it needs to be controlled because the people and the biodiversity of the country is suffering because of this. Thus, a policy has been proposed which focus on the environmental audit, controlling the pollution level at the source of its generation and tackling the polluted areas. This will be done by imposing the fine and the suspension of the activities and license to produce. This will ensure that the industries take care of tem manufacturing activities and they do not try to break the regulations or the limits that have been set by the respective regulatory authorities.

REFERENCES

Atkinson, R.W., Analitis, A., Samoli, E., Fuller, G.W., Green, D.C., Mudway, I.S., Anderson, H.R. and Kelly, F.J., 2015. Short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and daily mortality in London, UK. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Godish, T., Davis, W.T. and Fu, J.S., 2014. Air quality. CRC Press.

Graf, C., Katsoyiannis, A., Jones, K.C. and Sweetman, A.J., 2016. The TOMPs ambient air monitoring network–Continuous data on UK air quality for over 20 years. Environmental Pollution.

Guerreiro, C., de Leeuw, F. and Foltescu, V., 2013. Air quality in Europe-2013 report. European Environment Agency Rep.

Heinzerling, L., Mari, A., Bergmann, K.C., Bresciani, M., Burbach, G., Darsow, U., Durham, S., Fokkens, W., Gjomarkaj, M., Haahtela, T. and Bom, A.T., 2013. The skin prick test–European standards. Clinical and translational allergy, 3(1), p.1.

Lorenzoni, I. and Benson, D., 2014. Radical institutional change in environmental governance: Explaining the origins of the UK Climate Change Act 2008 through discursive and streams perspectives. Global Environmental Change, 29, pp.10-21.

Samoli, E., Atkinson, R.W., Analitis, A., Fuller, G.W., Green, D.C., Mudway, I., Anderson, H.R. and Kelly, F.J., 2016. Associations of short-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution with cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions in London, UK. Occupational and environmental medicine, pp.oemed-2015.