The government departments involved in the inquest into the death of nine-year old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah have until 17th June – Clean Air Day – to respond to a Coroner’s recommendations that they must do more to protect the public from toxic levels of air pollution.
In his Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) Report in April, Assistant Coroner Philip Barlow called on DEFRA, the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Mayor of London’s office, and others, to take responsibility for reducing air pollution levels to within WHO guidelines limits and raising public awareness of the dangers of air pollution to human health.
Jocelyn Cockburn, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, has said:
“It is very apt that Clean Air Day was the day chosen for this deadline. It’s time to see what the Government will do in response to the overwhelming evidence it was faced with during Ella’s inquest in December – that the death of a nine-year-old girl was brought about by her exposure to very high levels of air pollution. The ongoing failure to address toxic levels of emissions and to bring them to within legal limits means that air pollution continues to blight the lives of children like Ella.
“The global debate around air quality has now become an urgent priority. In the last few days, leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall have made their biggest commitments yet to reducing emissions. The UK is also hosting COP26 later this year. The world’s eyes are upon us and, as such, we expect a robust and co-ordinated plan from the UK government for bringing levels of key pollutants down in line with WHO recommendations and for initiating a strong public awareness campaign which will safeguard generations of children to come. Anything less will be a disgraceful response to an issue which has dominated headlines, particularly during the pandemic.”
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, Ella’s mother, has said:
“It is over eight years since Ella’s sad passing and children and young people continue to die from asthma, the numbers have not decreased. The coroner made it clear that unless urgent action is taken, children will continue to die.
“Since January 2020, I have met with ministers twice and they acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, however, action has been slow and as of yet nothing has been implemented. My sincere hope is that in the Government’s response to the PFD Report they will finally enshrine all of the coroner’s recommendations into law. This will be a fitting tribute to my late daughter, and the hope would be that no other child will have to suffer like she did.
“This is a public health crisis and there continues to be a lack of urgency to clean up the air. No child in 2021 should die from asthma. Last year during the first lockdown, between March and July, for the first time in a long time no child in the UK did because the air was cleaner and NOx was reduced by 70%. It showed us what can be achieved as long as there is the political will.”
All responses from the governmental departments will be reviewed by the Coroner after the 17th June, before being forwarded to the Chief Coroner’s office and published on the Coroner’s website at a later date.
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