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Regular updates from our Digital Content Executive, Sam Cleal

 

DEFRA Air Quality Plan - a Hollow Victory?

22 May 2017

DEFRA plan
 

Guest blog by William Hatchett, EHN Editor 

Everybody loves a David and Goliath struggle. ClientEarth’s recent legal battle with the Government, aimed at requiring it to act decisively to improve the UK’s air quality, attracted almost as many headlines as the simultaneous tussles over Brexit.

But the publication of Defra’s latest draft plan: Tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities could be viewed as a hollow victory. Required by the High Court to come up with the document before the election, the Government’s chosen day - just as the local government election results were announced - looked like an attempt to ‘bury bad news’.

The draft plan, rather like the government’s childhood anti-obesity strategy last October, pleased few. Could it be, some asked, that Theresa May is trying to appease three special interest groups – businesses, those who are fearful for their children’s lungs and those who like driving their ‘Chelsea tractors’ on the school run?

So what does the plan say? Diesel is the villain of the piece (everyone agrees on that). Roadside emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulates from buses, lorries, vans and diesel cars are by far the most responsible for the UK failing to meet EU air quality targets, which were the basis of the UK’s first national air quality strategy, in 1997.

The draft plan, which will lead to a final version in July, pins its hopes on extending the number of clean air zones, which first appeared on the scene in 2015 in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, as a result of a previous ClientEarth court case. It also focuses on road upgrades to tackle ‘pinch points’ and on research and development of technological fixes, such as cleaner burn engines and battery-powered vehicles. Charging schemes within clean air zones are included as the final and least popular option.

Campaigners are calling for diesel drivers to be more heavily taxed (they are ‘not to be punished’, says the document) and for a scrappage scheme backed by significant resources. What about the car makers who lied to us, they ask, why shouldn’t they pay? As to clean air zones, we’ll need a lot more of them, they argue. Charging and fines as introduced in London, are by far the best way to influence driver behavior; yet, they are government’s least favourite option.

We’ll be discussing these plans and more at our upcoming Challenge & Change: Air Quality Conference - book now.

 

The 9th Annual Housing and Health Conference

15 May 2017

CIEH Awards
 

Our annual Housing and Health Conference took place last week at CIEH headquarters. Now in its ninth year, the event tackled major emerging issues within the private rented sector, including surging homelessness, increasing unaffordability and insecurity of tenure.

A variety of excellent speakers illuminated a packed conference hall: Rhona Brown, private rented sector programme manager for the Greater London Authority, said there are now half a million children living in often sub-standard rented accommodation in the capital; while St Mungo’s director of rough sleeping, Petra Salva, told delegates that street homelessness in London was rising steeply and swamping services. Similarly, Carlene Thomas of Lambeth Council spoke about landlords cramming vulnerable tenants into rooms, thereby qualifying for the highest rates of housing benefit. The latter is now being tackled by the DCLG-funded Operation Lockdown.

Russell Moffatt, leading EHP, went on to further reveal the true scale of the crisis in the private rented sector. His borough of Newham had been amazed to discover that there were 26,000 landlords in operation, with half of all residents renting. A quarter of rented properties were houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and this was the sector where the worst conditions and abuses were found. As well as this, over half of landlords paid no tax on their rental income.

The issue of rogue landlords was a recurring one. London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has made housing a top priority, seeking government powers to authorise licensing schemes for private rented housing and launching a rogue landlord database later in the year. The conference also learned of new powers for councils to issue fixed penalties of up to £30,000 and to recover rent from rogue landlords, under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. David Smith of Anthony Gold solicitors strongly advocated using these powers to recover more money than ‘measly’ fines.

For more information on the Housing and Health Conference, watch our video summary on YouTube and read our June issue of EHN available from Friday 26th May. Speaker presentations are also available here.

 

Announcing the CIEH Excellence Awards

04 May 2017

CIEH Awards
 

Drum roll please… We’re proud to announce the new CIEH Excellence Awards: a brand new prestigious awards in environmental health! Taking place in November 2017, the awards will celebrate individuals, organisations and projects that are leading the way in environmental health and setting high standards.  

The Excellence Awards are now open and you can enter for free! We’re looking to reward true best practice and recognise the originality, creativity, passion and hard work of those working within the environmental health sector.  

There are 5 categories you can enter yourself, and 2 categories that require you to nominate another individual. Each category has specific entry requirements and criteria, so be sure to check before you enter. 

The Awards are your opportunity to demonstrate your work in front of an expert judging panel, and for finalists to showcase their work amongst their peers and leaders in the field. 

Judging will be carried out by a variety of expert environmental health professionals. A minimum of two judges will be assigned to each category to ensure objectivity and impartiality.  

The CIEH Excellence Awards will culminate in a stylish awards lunch held at CIEH venue, 15Hatfields, London. Register your interest now and don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to network with top environmental health professionals while you celebrate the successes and inspirational achievements in environmental health. 

You can find out more about the CIEH Excellence Awards – including event details, tips for entry, judges, categories and sponsorship opportunities – at www.cieh.org/awards. 

Have you made a significant contribution to environmental health recently? Don’t delay… enter now! #CIEHExcellence 
 
▼ April blog posts 

CIEH Develops Member Led Policy Panels

28 April 2017

Panel
 

On 13 February, the CIEH welcomed a brand new community to its headquarters. The air quality expert panel - chaired by Steve Battersby - met for the first time to consult on CIEH’s air quality policies, and advise what campaigns were needed and what our priorities should be.  

The air quality panel will be the first of many different specialist panels, each focussing on the core disciplines of environmental health and being made up of CIEH members.  

Debbie Wood - Executive Director of Membership and Professional Development - explained that CIEH is now developing policy and undertaking campaigns in a different way, whereby members, through groups like this, contribute to and deliver agreed outcomes with CIEH staff acting as facilitators and advisors. 

Steve invited members to openly contribute to the day’s discussions, whilst emphasizing that the CIEH must make a unique contribution in this area either on its own, or in partnership with others. 

Discussions took place on the health effects of poor air quality, as well as the need for greater political will and interaction between environmental health and the positive contribution that improving air quality can make to the NHS. 

The panel also agreed on the need for granular epidemiological evidence to support the need for action; how the establishment of Clean Air Zones is not necessarily a feasible solution to problems; the need to align air quality to both sustainable development and social justice and the need for action rather than more analysis. 

Agreed outcomes from the inaugural panel meeting included the need for an initial CIEH policy position on air quality (which all group members should contribute to); that the CIEH should join the All Party Parliamentary Group on air quality; and that members of the panel may attend as CIEH representatives at upcoming consultation meetings and report back to the panel and community. 
 

#ChallengeDebbie

13 April 2017

10 interesting facts
 

Our intrepid Director of Membership and Professional Development, Debbie Wood, took to the London sewers recently to get an idea of what pest control really get up to. 

Debbie was invited by Darren McKellar, Pest Control and Clinical Waste Manager within the London borough of Lewisham, to complete a fact-finding mission into the ‘Cinderella service’ of pest control. Darren took Debbie through a range of homes and estates within Lewisham, revealing what pest control deal with on a daily basis. 

A chronic murophobic (that’s a phobia of rats and mice), Debbie literally tackled her fear head-on when she came face to face with all manner of “things that scurry” including mice, cockroaches, bed-bugs, squirrels and rats - both alive and dead! 

“I’m sure I nearly deafened poor Darren with my scream upon encountering an enormous rat in an underground service duct”, said Debbie. “But the day was fantastic. It’s given me the utmost admiration for the un-sung heroes of pest control: they make an enormous contribution to health and wellbeing that most people don’t know about.” 

Debbie’s challenge to face her phobia of rats came after she attended her first meeting of the National Pest Advisory Panel, a group of experts in the field who are supported by CIEH. 

Many thanks to Lewisham for hosting Debbie. She is now looking for another real-life environmental health experience, so come on - what can you offer?  #ChallengeDebbie or email d.wood@cieh.org 
 
▼ March blog posts 

10 Interesting Facts About Air Quality

17 March 2017

10 interesting facts
 

This month’s forum on tackling air pollution and improving air quality, hosted by Inside Government, proved to be very eye-opening. While the subject of air quality is high on the agenda for politicians, local councils, charities and the general public alike, it’s often a technical issue. So, if you’re not an expert like the Inside Government speakers, you might not know these 10 interesting facts about air quality in the UK. 

 
  1. Air pollution takes an average of 6 months off of everybody’s life expectancy, according to a report by COMEAP
     
  2. There are now 300 charging points for electric cars in Greater Manchester.
  3.  
  4. National Clean Air Day will take place for the first time ever on 15th June this year.
  5.  
  6. Green walls are the technical term for walls covered in plant life. They are “living walls” or “vertical gardens”, complete with a growing medium like soil and may be found indoors or outdoors. Green walls regulate the temperature of buildings, purify water and improve air quality.
  7.  
  8. The City of London, together with King’s College London, have developed the City Air App, which suggests cleaner and less polluted journeys to work for London citizens.
  9.  
  10. Bus and taxi drivers are thought to be 3x more at risk of death from illnesses caused by air pollution, says Birmingham City Council. This is because of excessive exposure to emissions during long shifts on the road.
  11.  
  12. The Greater London Authority has given that all new London black cabs must be zero-emission capable from 2016
  13.  
  14. As our CEO Anne Godfrey points out, our consumer behavior, as customers of Uber cabs, Amazon Prime and Ocado, contribute to air pollution in cities and towns alike
  15.  
  16. A baby born in London in 2010 who is exposed to the same level of air pollution for its entire life would lose 2.2 years (male) and 2 years (female) from its total life expectancy, according to Elliott Treherne of Greater London Authority.
  17.  
  18. The UK’s first 100% electric double-decker bus was introduced in 2014 by City of York Council. 
 

Tackling Air Pollution and Improving Air Quality 

02 March 2017

London

“Clean air now” was the message of last week's forum: Tackling Air Pollution and Improving Air Quality. Hosted by Inside Government, the event pulled together major stakeholders in the industry to discuss the progress they had each made in curtailing air pollution and improving air quality across the British Isles.

Traffic was the chief offender, which will hardly surprise anybody. From York to London, councils everywhere, charities and politicians are attempting to change the way we travel so as to minimise diesel emissions. Matthew O’Neill, Lead Air Quality Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester, spoke about plans to revolution Oxford Road - a main corridor in Manchester’s central business district - with ‘Dutch style’ cycle lanes and restrictions on general traffic flow. Similarly, Ruth Calderwood, Air Quality Manager for City of London, praised the work of her team in developing safer ways for commuters to travel and reducing cars idling.

One recurrent topic was deliveries. We uber now and order from Amazon Prime and Ocado at the drop of a hat, said Anne Godfrey: this behaviour can be selfish. This point was revisited by David Harris, Transport Policy Manager for Birmingham City Council who also informed us that nearly 900 deaths are attributable to bad health caused by air pollution in Birmingham alone per year. We need to pull together on this issue, said David; it’s about bringing the community together and calling for Government funding to be clearer and more targeted.

Also an advocate of lobbying The Government was Matthew Pennycook, MP and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group. Matthew highlighted the argument that air quality was an issue of environmental injustice, a sentiment echoed by Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis of Public Health England and shared by many a councillor sitting in the audience. Those living in deprived areas are at a much larger risk of ill health caused by bad air, Sotiris continued, including respiratory issues like asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

The event was an eye-opening insight into the amazing work being done by organisations like City of London, ClientEarth and Global Action Plan; but it was also a chance to advocate for more change. Using Brexit as a platform, Anne Godfrey commented, we can achieve something higher [than the EU set limits for air pollution]. While local authorities have been integral in advancing change, The Government still needs to draw up a new national air quality strategy that tightens objectives, encourages sustainable transport and draws together relevant Government departments to improve poor air quality.
 
▼ February blog posts 

Getting To Know Tamara Sandoul

16 February 2017

Tamara

As things continue to change at CIEH, we welcome a new recruit to the team. Let’s get to know her a little bit more.

Meet Tamara. She’s a Policy Manager here at CIEH, looking after housing and air quality as well as keeping an eye on developments in health and safety.

What is your background? 

“I’m a Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduate from Warwick University. I have a background in health policy, having worked for the Department of Health, British Lung Foundation and Breast Cancer Now.”

What is your relationship to environmental health? 

“I’ve previously worked on public health issues and also on air quality. At the British Lung Foundation, our team led on the campaign to ban smoking in cars carrying children and supported the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products.”

Is air quality the biggest environmental health issue facing the UK right now? 

“Concerns about air pollution have been growing in recent years. 37 out of 43 areas in the UK are still breaching EU limits on air pollution. This has not yet been properly addressed by the Government and it is nearly impossible for people to avoid being exposed to pollution in urban areas. However, there are many other environmental health concerns, which may be more hidden but pose an equally big threat to public health, such as poor housing conditions.”

If you were Mayor of London, what would be your first policy? 

“I would look more closely at the private rented sector to see whether conditions could be improved for tenants, perhaps as part of the extra powers for devolution of the capital. I would also look at tackling air pollution by taking older and more polluting vehicles off the road and protecting schools in the worst affected areas.”

When she’s not working, one of Tamara’s passions is making ceramics. 

“I tried my hand at it years ago and have been completely hooked ever since! This is the one hobby that has stuck with me and will continue to be a part of my life for years to come.” Her favourite place to visit is Rome: “It’s a fantastic city to visit – lots to see, lots of amazing food and lots of sunshine.”

What are you looking forward to getting stuck into at the CIEH? 

“I look forward to meeting all of our stakeholders and setting up expert panels and communities for each of our policy areas, so that our members can get more involved in our policy work going forward. I would also like to make the work of environmental health officers better understood outside of the profession, so that the general public is more aware of the great work being done across the country to protect the nation’s health.”

To find out more about Tamara's work, take a look at our policy pages.


A Jersey Expedition 

9 February 2017

Jersey

Last month, our Chief Executive, Anne Godfrey, along with our president, Tim Everett, spent two days in the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The visit aimed to unite the CIEH with current and past members of the Environmental Health team out there. Whilst we revealed our plans for the CIEH this year, Tim and Anne were able to find out just how Jersey carries out the Environmental Health function. Being well aware that Jersey is a self-governing parliamentary democracy outside of the UK and the European Union – and so it may write its own legislation – both visitors were eager to see how this independence from UK law has allowed the island to develop an agility and robustness in its Environmental Health law-making.

Senior managers from the Environment Ministry and several retired CIEH members spent time with Tim and Anne, who both received presentations on the Environmental Health function in Jersey, Environmental Policy, Public Health Policy and Housing Policy. These were given by senior officials from 3 different Ministries and including the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Jersey.

Tim and Anne also met with The Minister for the Environment, whose responsibilities include Environmental Health, as well as a whole host of other senior Jersey politicians. Next, a trip to the newly refurbished desalination plant provided some light relief from a very busy schedule.

Lastly, the newest member of the environmental Health team in Jersey, Felicity Guest, was presented with her EHRB certificate by Tim. Felicity is the first Jersey-born Environmental Health Officer to join the team for some time.

On behalf of Tim and Anne, we’d like to thank Jersey’s Environmental Health team for their hospitality and generousness.

 
▼ January blog posts 

Diesel: The Not So Silent Killer

19 January 2017

Car

There was a lot of buzz at last night's air quality event about diesel. As experts gathered in CIEH headquarters for a panel event organised by London Sustainability Exchange (LSX), we learned that the biggest cause of bad air by far is diesel emissions.

Diesel contributes significantly to the toxic mix of gases and particles we breathe in daily. ‘The government did well enough in incentivising us to buy diesel cars, the same effort should be made to get transport infrastructure changed, updated and futureproofed’ said LSX event organiser Hannah Gardiner.

She was not alone. The evening opened up with speeches from 4 guest speakers, which continued into a panel discussion with Q&A and finally a debate. What was clear was just how passionate everybody was about improving air quality.

Under review was the recent guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). ‘Nice as far as it goes’, said Dr Tim Chatterton of UWE Bristol, ‘but it doesn’t address the real issues’.

Real issues like the fact that 9,500 people die per year in London alone due health complications arising from bad air.

On hand to spell out the worst case scenario for Londoners was Professor Jonathan Grigg of Queen Mary University. A paediatric expert, Grigg spoke about lung growth and advised that national interventions were necessary to prevent young people developing conditions such as wheeze and asthma.

Speaking about the Mayor’s position, Oliver Lord of Greater London Authority admitted that encouraging diesel vehicles has led to a poorer quality of air, which is now being curtailed by initiatives such as the congestion charge and vehicle excise duty. He further commented that it was an issue of awareness and education: ‘it is key to understand diesel emissions and the impact they’re having in the real world, as well as the options people have to phase out diesel.’

If this is an issue you’re affected by, you can read more about the LSX event in our next issue of EHN Magazine. Also visit our YouTube channel where you can watch footage from the event.

 

New Year, New Us: The First Ever CIEH Blog Post

16 January, 2017

First blog

Welcome to the CIEH blog, a brand new resource that chronicles developments from inside CIEH, informs you about all of our events and campaigns, and shares stories from around the globe relating to environmental health.

We’d like to welcome you to the blog by relaying to you some of the changes that are happening here, and informing you of the myriad events we have going on this month and the next.

It’s an exciting time with our panel on air quality having just closed; we’d like to thank everybody for their feedback on this important issue. We’re also still in the midst of our renewals season. You can now renew online or by direct debit to save up to £31 on your renewal fee! Offer ends 31st January.

Celebrating over a year at the helm, our CEO Anne Godfrey continues to champion change, promising to serve our members but also to reinvigorate the organisation even more so this year.

We’re looking forward to a great selection of conferences in 2017, starting with our Smoking Conference in April and our Annual Housing and Health Conference in May. We’ve also got several interactive workshops for January (more details below) including how to deal with ‘Damp, Mould and Excess Cold’, ‘Tackling Rogue Landlords’ and a ‘Noise Management Update’. Read here for information and a take a look below for a full of list of our events throughout January and February.

Be sure to like our revamped Facebook page and keep up with us over on Twitter. There’s so much more on the way, so stay tuned in to CIEH this winter for blogs, webinars, events, videos and more!

January 

17th - Understanding HHSRS 
18th - HMO practical inspection 
19th - Preparing cases under the new sentencing guidelines 
25th - Managing H&S in hotel and leisure clubs 
25th - Damp, mould and excess cold 

February 

1st - Managing the risk of legionella 
1st - Applying HHSRS 
2nd - Understanding HHSRS 
7th - Tackling rogue landlords 
8th - Preparing cases under the new sentencing guidelines 
22nd - Managing H&S in hotel and leisure clubs 
28th - Noise management update 

 

 




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