A draft plan to improve air quality by reducing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in the UK has been published. The options now open for consultation are designed to reduce the impact of diesel vehicles and accelerate the move to cleaner transport. Local authorities are already responsible for improving air quality in their area, but will now be expected to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.
The Government is consulting on a range of measures that could be taken to mitigate the impact of action to improve air quality. Proposals include retrofitting buses to improve emissions and paying owners of older cars to move to electric alternatives. In line with the timetable directed by the Courts, the Government is seeking views on these proposals in advance of preparing its final plan for publication by 31 July. All final decisions will be taken by the incoming Government. The consultation will run until 15 June.
Commenting on the plan, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, said, ‘While we welcome the Government’s long awaited plan, its proposals on transport are wholly inadequate in tackling the dangerous levels of pollution across our most polluted cities. The various proposed measures in the strategy will not be enough and some, like more roads, may actually make things worse. Cleaning up our air means reducing the numbers of cars and lorries on our roads. Councils in the new clean air zones need real powers and funding to invest in modern public transport, walking and cycling facilities to give people real alternatives, with charges and taxes where necessary, not silly Government suggestions to scrap road humps. The Government must listen to the medical profession and the many people who suffer from poor air quality, and come up with a serious plan to give people air that is fit to breathe.’
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented on the proposals via social media, ‘Air pollution is the public health emergency of our generation, with over 40,000 people dying prematurely in Britain every year and proposals announced today by the Government don’t go nearly far enough to meet the scale of the challenge. We’ve dragged the Government kicking and screaming through the courts to produce these belated proposals, but they are toothless and woefully inadequate. Whilst I’m pleased the Government has not ruled out my proposals for a targeted diesel scrappage fund there is no commitment to it. This alone will not fix the problem or bring our air back into legal pollution limits.’
Visit https://consult.defra.gov.uk/airquality/air-quality-plan-for-tackling-nitrogen-dioxide/supporting_documents/Draft%20Revised%20AQ%20Plan.pdf to see the full air quality plan.