By Maximilian Clarke

The government is putting thousands of lives at risk by ignoring EU air quality rules, Parliament’s environmental watchdog the Environmental Audit Committee, has said.

Figures suggest as many as 30,000 deaths each year are linked to pollution, though air quality and emissions score no mention in business plans and transport schemes.

"It is a national scandal that thousands of people are still dying from air pollution in the UK in 2011 — and the government is taking no responsibility for this,” said Joan Walley, Chair of the Committee

“It is often the poorest people in our cities who live near the busiest roads and breath in diesel fumes, dangerous chemicals and bits of tyre every day.

“If you have heart disease, asthma or other respiratory illnesses then living near a congested road like this can literally take years off your life.

“Despite a coalition pledge to meet European safety standards on air pollution the Government appears to be lobbying behind the scenes to water these rules down."