To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to support improvements to air quality in the parts of the country with the worst levels of air pollution.
13 January 2020
Air quality is a key policy area for this Government and a great deal of work is being done to tackle air pollution. Implementing the commitments set out in the Clean Air Strategy, which was published last year, will help to clean up our air faster and more effectively in towns and cities.
The upcoming Environment Bill, which will shortly be reintroduced to Parliament, will deliver some key commitments in the Strategy. This includes introducing a duty to set a legally binding target for fine particulate matter concentrations, the pollutant of most harm to health. The Bill will also ensure that local authorities have a clear framework for tackling air pollution, and are better able to tackle a key source of fine particulate matter emissions – domestic solid fuel burning. It will also provide the Government with new powers to enforce environmental standards for vehicles and machinery.
The Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit is also working with a number of local authorities to deliver compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in the shortest possible time. The unit provides these local authorities with guidance and support to develop local plans to identify and implement suitable measures to achieve this objective, supported by £572 million dedicated funding. In some instances local authorities will be implementing charging clean air zones to deliver these reductions, and the Government is working closely with these authorities to ensure the necessary IT systems are in place and ready to use.
Further, Defra’s Air Quality Grant Programme provides funding to local authorities, funding projects in local communities to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions affecting schools, businesses and residents. Defra has awarded over £60 million in funding to local authorities since the grant started in 1997.
These measures will improve air quality across the country, including in inner-city areas.