Clean air acts & the great smog
The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced to try to tackle the problem of smog which was becoming a serious problem in the UK particularly in London.
The smog was so bad it’s thought it caused or contributed to thousands of premature deaths across the country.
The Great Smog
The situation came to a head in what’s become known as the Great Smog when from Friday 5th – Tuesday 9th December 1952, London experienced what’s said to be the worst air pollution in UK history.
Around 100,000 people fell ill during those five days.
Estimates vary as to how many died. Reports range from 4000-12000. Years later the smog was still taking its toll; thousands died prematurely from illnesses related to pollution.
What did the Clean Air Acts demand?
The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 included a variety of measures. Among them were moves to get industry and home owners to switch from coal to cleaner fuels such as gas and electricity.
There were also measures to relocate power stations out of cities and plans to build taller chimneys to try to disperse air pollution caused by industries burning coal.
What legislation is in force now?
The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 have since been replaced by the Clean Air Act of 1993. Separate legislation applies to Northern Ireland. This is the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.