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Empower councils to improve air quality

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

The new national Air Quality Plan must go further by tackling pollution at a national level and empowering local authorities to play their part in improving air quality, according to London Councils. 

In a consultation response to Defra, London Councils says that the plan in its current draft form places responsibility onto local authorities without providing clarity or appropriate regulatory or financial support. It also includes a limited number of Government commitments to improve air quality.

Cllr Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said:

“London boroughs are keenly aware that air pollution is a serious concern. They have a range of excellent local initiatives already in place to tackle this, including action on engine idling, cleaning borough fleets and improving the urban realm. As well as the work the boroughs are doing directly, the Mayor is introducing an Ultra Low Emissions Zone for London. However we believe that central Government has an equally crucial role in supporting councils as well as leading on national strategies to improve air quality.

“We believe that Defra’s draft Air Quality Plan could go much further by committing Government to take firm action, providing additional support to councils and including specific proposals for addressing the use of privately-owned vehicles, encouraging people to try more sustainable travel options, and increasing investment in public electric vehicle charging networks.

“Air pollution does not respect administrative boundaries which means that Government, councils and businesses need to work together to deal with it. We hope to see this reflected in the final version of the Air Quality Plan.”

London Councils’ consultation response also asks Government to:

  • Look at targeting air pollution funding at areas with the highest levels of air pollution and where the largest number of people are being affected.
  • Consider introducing a new Clean Air Act so councils can gain regulatory powers to control other sources of pollution, such as generators. 
  • Ensure local authorities are fully funded to monitor air quality in their areas effectively.
  • Introduce a carefully designed diesel scrappage scheme. 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Air pollution contributes to around 40,000 deaths each year, of which 9,400 are in London. London also has the highest nitrogen dioxide exceedance in the UK.
 
To read London Councils’ consultation response in full, visit http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/our-key-themes/environment/air-quality-london.