What is National Government doing about Air Quality?
As a result of legal action by Client Earth the government has mandated 27 cities to take action on air pollution. A further 33 local authorities have also been directed to produce plans as a result of further action by Client Earth.
These cities have to investigate, report back on and ultimately then implement measures to reduce pollution – within a tight timescale and without undue regard to the cost of the measures to the council, according to the legal ruling.
The most effective method is charging the dirtiest vehicles to enter the most polluted parts of the city, but mindful of negative economic impacts, the government has directed councils to investigate all alternatives to charging first, and only resort to charging if nothing else will achieve compliance within the shortest possible time.
Clean Air Zones
The Government set out a new policy in 2016 for Clean Air Zones which states that:
“Clean Air Zones improve the urban environment to support public health and the local economy, making cities more attractive places to live, work, do business and spend leisure time. They support cities to grow and transition to a low emission economy thus ensuring these benefits are sustainable for the long term.”
The Government’s Clean Air Zone Framework states:
“A Clean Air Zone defines an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality and resources are prioritised and coordinated in order to shape the urban environment in a way that delivers improved health benefits and supports economic growth.
Clean Air Zones aim to address all sources of pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and reduce public exposure to them using a range of measures tailored to the particular location.
Within a Clean Air Zone there is also a particular focus on measures to accelerate the transition to a low emission economy. This will ensure improvements are ongoing and sustainable, support future development and decouple local growth from air pollution.
Clean Air Zones bring together local measures to deliver immediate action to improve air quality and health with support for cities to grow while delivering sustained reductions in pollution and a transition to a low emission economy. Where there are the most persistent pollution problems, this is supported by restrictions to encourage only the cleanest vehicles to operate in the city.”