Ten areas to trial air quality measures

Ten local authorities are set to take forward new measures to reduce pollution levels in their region as part of the government’s plan to tackle and improve the UK’s poor air quality.

Dudley, Leicester, Newcastle-under Lyme, Portsmouth, Reading, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Solihull, Basingstoke and Deane and South Gloucestershire will use government funding to implement the measures, including the retrofitting of approximately 400 buses with technology to reduce emissions, traffic management measures and behavioural change campaigns to encourage individuals to take action.

Although NO2 levels have fallen significantly in recent decades, including a 27 per cent drop since 2010, the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hot-spots must take robust action. This follows the government issuing Ministerial Directions to 33 local authorities, requiring them to submit studies on the steps they can take to comply with roadside NO2 limits in the shortest amount of time.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, we know urgent action is still required to tackle roadside air pollution in our towns and cities. This is why through our £3.5billion national air quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK and I am pleased ten local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down pollution.

“The Roads Minister Jesse Norman and I have written to the leaders of all the authorities that have submitted feasibility studies to thank them for their hard work and underline that Defra will continue to support them to improve air quality in their areas.”

Coffey also announced the £3 million  Air Quality Grant for 2018-19 which will provide support to local authorities across England to deliver projects to improve air quality. Applicants in previous years have been awarded funding to install electric vehicle charging points, improve cycling infrastructure and develop local online air quality resources.