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Ministers were condemned today for failing to pledge that EU air pollution standards will be kept in Britain after Brexit.

The Commons environmental audit committee had urged the Government to clarify its position after repeated demands for assurances that air quality standards will not be watered down after the UK quits the European Union.

Ministers stopped short of guaranteeing that this will not happen in a reply to the committee, which compiled a report on air quality in relation to a third runway at Heathrow.

They said: “The UK has a long commitment to improving the environment even before it joined the EU; for example the Clean Air Act was introduced in 1956.

“Our strong commitment to improving air quality will continue after the UK leaves the EU.” They added that the Great Repeal Bill will convert EU law, including on air pollution, into UK law before the country splits from the EU.

However, there was no clarity on what will happen afterwards.

Mary Creagh, the committee’s Labour chairwoman, said: “Ministers are still refusing to guarantee that EU air quality targets won’t be quietly dropped after we leave the EU, have no national plan for air pollution, and their carbon calculations are a fantasy”.   This is an exemplar example of where people don’t have their facts right before they speak.