§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans exist to promote open government with specific regard to the publication of air quality levels in urban areas.
§ Mr. Atkins
[holding answer 14 July 1994]: Information from the Department of the Environment's national automatic monitoring sites is used to provide air quality bulletins to the public, giving daily information on air pollution in both urban and rural areas across the United Kingdom via a freephone helpline, Ceefax, Teletext and a variety of other news media. The bulletin includes information on levels of pollutants which are described as "very good", "good", "poor" or "very poor" together with a forecast and health advice on what to do should levels become high. The Ceefax and Teletext bulletin services have recently been upgraded and now provide hourly updates on nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide and benzene.44W
In addition, information from the Department's non-automatic and automatic monitoring sites is published regularly.