27 Mar 2018
Local authorities will receive funding to prepare for government plans to improve air quality as part of the newly announced £220m Clean Air Fund. Councils will be able to conduct feasibility studies, implement action plans, and run awareness campaigns with the investment.
The government has allocated funding to some of the worst offending areas, including Westminster itself.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: ‘Today’s funding demonstrates the government’s commitment to support the local momentum needed to continue to improve our air now and for future generations.
‘Improving air quality is about more than just tackling emissions from transport, so later this year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy. This will set out how we address all forms of air pollution, delivering cleaner air for the whole country.’
Following the publication of government’s UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations (Pdf) last year, the £3bn Clean Air Strategy will address upcoming policies relating to other known pollutants.
Measures already put in place to improve environmental standards in the UK include a ban on sales of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040 and stricter guidelines for the agriculture and fisheries industries.
The transport industry currently accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage.
Four Commons committees – Environment, Health, Transport, and Environmental Audit – produced a collaborative report (Pdf) on 7 March 2018 calling for a new Clean Air Act funded by the automotive sector.
‘Successive governments have been slow to take the necessary action on air pollution even when confronted with legal proceedings at the UK and EU level,’ the report states.
Among the recommendations from the report are improvements to public transport to reduce the need for private vehicles, a national health campaign to promote the risks of air pollution, and for more power to go to regional councils in decisions regarding local air quality initiatives.
By Georgina Hines
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