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Atmospheric Pollution – an Environmental Law Essay

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ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION - AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ESSAY: 1.0 Firstly, we must question: How does air pollution occur? To understand this, one is required to recognise the earth's surroundings. Life is totally dependant upon the blanket of mixed gases referred to as 'air' surrounding our planet earth. This atmosphere is, approximately, a five hundred kilometre thick1 composite layer of colourless, odourless gasses that surrounds the earth kept in place by gravitational forces. Due to its intangible form, it is often ignored by man, making it vulnerable and easily damaged (this fact being highlighted by a large number of disasters caused, effectively, by man). The political and scientific debate on the so called 'Greenhouse Effect' is based on concern over increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide resulting from combustion of fossil fuels and emissions of other 'Greenhouse Gases' - such as methane (from decomposing waste), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxides (NOx). The activities of homo sapiens have introduced these new chemicals into the atmosphere and disturbed the distribution of its natural constituents. At first, this was limited to the effect of the fireplace, but later, with the greatly expanded usage of coal, these effects grew more acute. And, after the Industrial Revolution, these effects were compounded. As will be made clear, this revolution reached such a point that consequences began to be regarded more than just an inevitable residue of industrialisation and the struggle for economic growth. 1.1 Secondly, in order to intertwine the above information with the issue at hand, it may be necessary to ask oneself, what is environmental law, who is using it and for what purposes? These questions are being posed, as it is imperative to understand the background of the subject, not just for this subtopic in environmental law, but any topic, before entering it in any depth. Environmental law is first and foremost, a combination of primary legislation2, secondary legislation3 (which will be explained in more depth throughout the project), judicial decisions, common law principles, European Community legislation4 - ...read more.


The influence of international law on the regulation of air pollution has been significant. This may be in recognition of the fact that many of the problems caused by air pollution can have impacts across a large geographical area (and in many cases cause seriously global effects). There have been a number of areas where international law has helped to shape policies and rules on both a domestic and European level. Therefore, with regards to our particular topic, atmospheric pollution in England is regulated, not only by domestic bodies, but moreover, on a European and global level. The problems related to air pollution are by no means a new phenomenon. The prohibitions on certain activities producing smoke are probably the first instances of environment pollution legislation in the United Kingdom, and legislation dates back to 1863 with the Alkali Act, Public Health Act 1875 and 1936, Public Health (Smoke Abatement) Act 1926 and the Clean Air Act (CAA) 1956. The first modern piece of legislation combating air pollution, namely the Alkali Act, represented the culmination of a long period of dissatisfaction with environmental conditions, especially in London. For example, in 1819, an M.P had written, "[T]he volumes of smoke which issues from the furnaces on every side of the river Thames opposite my own house actually blacken every flower I have in my own garden in Whitehall"22 Until the CAA 1956 was introduced, the government of Britain has had a large amount of difficulty in tackling the problems of atmospheric pollution. Nowadays, the 3 main pollution controls in Britain (which will be clearly explained in detail in), are the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC)23 and Integrated Pollution and Control (IPPC), the Clean Air Act (CAA)24 1993 (a consolidation of the CAA 1956 and CAA 1968), and the controls relating to vehicle emissions. In addition to these, the Environmental Act 1995 25(EA 1995) naturally plays a large role, as it does in all environmental issues. ...read more.


13 Which is a Private Members Bill 14 The Economist. April 27th 2002. 15 Friends Of The Earth is calling for the toughest possible standards in the discussions currently taking place in Brussels. 16 Mark Francis - Former Chairman of Peoples Fuel Lobby 17 Ray Holloway - Director of Petrol Retailers Association 18 The Financial Times Newspaper. May 2002 19 Ken Livingston's Manifesto - London: A Sustainable World City 20 Ken Livingston's Manifesto - London: A Sustainable World City 21 Local research states that in 1999 VOCs were reduced by 9% 22 Michael Angelo Taylor. M.P for Durham City, quoted in 'The Politics of Clean Air', by Eric Ashby and Mary Anderson. Page 2. 23 Which regulates most heavily polluting industries.. there is also a parallel system which regulates air emissions from less polluting processes called 'Air Pollution Control', administered by local authorities (LAAPC). 24 A preventative Act which implies large expenses. 25 Which was 'a major step forward in air quality policy' - Air Quality Management: Lessons from the first round. 26 A detailed formal analysis of IPC is to be found in Castle & Harrison (1996). In addition to the textbooks of environmental law, briefer summaries may be found in Harris (1992) and Layfield (1992) 27 Cavendish Principles of Law Series - Principles of Environmental Law Third Edition. Page 249. 28 The 'safeguard clause' is very often embodied in Community legislation, eg, Article 31 of Directive 67/548/EEC as amended. 29 Cavendish Principles of Law Series - Principles of Environmental Law Third Edition. Page 265/266. 30 Five years ago, Tony Blair promised to lead "the first truly green government ever". But the government's infatuation with business has prevented it developing a serious environmental strategy. 31 Former USA vice-president 32 Earth in the Balance 33 Environmentalist by Bj�rn Lomborg, professor of statistics at the University of Aarhus in Denmark 34 Which is against the trend of European methods. 35 Environmental Law. Fifth Edition. Stuart Bell & Donald McGillivray. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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