I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Doyle, for his attendance. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, raised issues about the level of nitrogen dioxide in Dublin's air, which hit the newspapers and other media yesterday. We are in danger, if we have not done so already, of breaching European Union limits on air pollution in Dublin. This has particular consequences for the health and well-being of people who live in the capital, particularly those with asthma or other respiratory diseases who are far more susceptible to a decrease in air quality. Of course, people know this anyway and did not need the EPA to come up with a report to tell us the air quality in Dublin is poor. I also wish to address the Government's rather poor response to these findings.
I live in Knocklyon, which is on the M50 corridor. Today is a day of still air and if one goes up the Dublin Mountains from April or May onwards on a still day, one can see the entire line and curve of the M50 as it stretches from Wicklow to Fingal and beyond. On a day like today, one would see a heavy brown pallor of smoke approximately 200 feet above the M50. It is there constantly but we tend to only see it on clear days. Nothing has been done to address that pallor, which has been there for the past decade.
We must thank the EPA for undertaking a degree of air monitoring. The M50 is not the only area it mentioned, but it is one which it indicated was approaching, equal to or above the nitrogen dioxide levels acceptable. So too are areas around the port tunnel in the city, the quays and Heuston Station, where the levels at Dr. Steevens' Hospital appear to be the highest.
We must have some leadership from the Government on this issue, as it is a problem that will not go away. The level of car ownership is increasing. The Government's response is that the pollutants in the city are mainly diesel vehicles, cars, trucks and buses and, therefore, the answer is BusConnects, as the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said yesterday. The BusConnects project is a year old, yet nothing has happened. By the time it is finished - if it is ever completed; much of it, including the infrastructure, will never see the light of day - it will be 2027 or 2030. We need some indication that the Government will not be reactive on issues such as air quality but proactive.
The answer to chronic emissions is dealing with the vehicles that create them. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that to improve air quality in and around the city, we will have to reduce the number of polluting vehicles. That will take courage, but someone will have to do it because the only way to clean the air is to remove the vehicles that are polluting it. The answer others on this side of the House and I keep getting is the solution is Project 2040, BusConnects and e-cars by 2030. There will be a reckoning for the Government on its performance in dealing with this issue. At the very least, we are calling for air monitoring installations to be set up immediately in all parts of the city and other urban areas in order that we can capture the level of its quality, but that is only part of the story. Dramatic action must be taken. That will require leadership; leadership will require bringing people along, identifying the challenges and immediate, medium and long-term solutions.