§ Mr. Drew
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will(a) make a statement on the Government's approach to the monitoring of air quality, (b) list those sites which the Government use for monitoring air quality and (c) make a statement on the role of local authorities in monitoring air quality. 
§ Mr. Meacher
The air quality strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in January 2000, sets objectives for eight main air pollutants in order to protect people's health and maintain sustainable development. This strategy takes account of European legislation and international agreements essential to improve air quality across Europe and the United Kingdom. Over many years successive Governments have developed a variety of national networks which monitor and measure concentrations of the main pollutants in the ambient air. My Department continues to review and extend that coverage to ensure our obligations are fully met and it produces the information necessary for proper decision-making.
A detailed description of the networks, individual monitoring sites within the networks, and recorded measurements is available on my Department's worldwide website (http://www.environment.detr.gov.uk/airq/aqinfo.htm) within the national air quality archive. Copies of annual reports of the networks are also published on the Department's website. Summary information on measured pollution levels and their effects on people's health is available daily on Teletext and CEEFAX pages, as well as through weather bulletins. A copy of the air quality strategy is available in the House of Commons Library and a list of monitoring sites will be made available to the Library.373W
Local authorities also have a key role to play in monitoring air quality. Under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, all local authorities are required to review and assess their local air quality and to designate air quality management areas where they expect any significant problems. The monitoring of current levels of key air pollutants, combined with the forecasting of likely future levels of these pollutants, is a fundamental part of this exercise. My Department has provided over £12 million worth of supplementary credit approvals to local authorities in recent years to assist with the purchase of monitoring equipment, and has provided detailed technical guidance on operational monitoring issues.
§ Mr. Meacher
In the last four months, I have issued no new instruction by way of a direction to the Environment Agency with regard to the(a) monitoring and (b) enforcement of regulations relating to air quality. However, instructions were given which indirectly relate to air quality on the 25 October 2000, when a transitional direction was issued under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 to ensure directions previously made under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 continue to have effect under the new regime.