A total of 33 more local authorities have been identified
by the government to tackle air pollution in their areas.
The development builds on an initial five local
authorities - Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton - that were
originally identified by the government.
The 33 will introduce a range of measures to reduce harmful
nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions that potentially could include:
- The retrofitting of approximately 400 buses with
technology to reduce emissions
- Traffic management measures such as adjustments
to signalling to reduce congestion
- Behavioural change campaigns to encourage
individuals to take action and reduce their contribution to air pollution
Initially 10 local authorities will take forward new
measures, developed with and funded by central government, to reduce pollution
levels. They are: Dudley, Leicester, Newcastle-under Lyme, Portsmouth, Reading,
Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Solihull, Basingstoke and Deane and South
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 £3.5 billion national air
quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK and I am
pleased 10 local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down
“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.”
While the government says that NO2 levels have fallen
significantly in recent decades, including a 27% 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.
Earlier this year, ministerial directions were issued 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.
The government has now published a supplement to the plan
setting out work carried out with those 33 local authorities and the further
action which will now be taken.
In addition to the 10 local authorities taking forward
new measures to tackle air pollution, eight local authorities were now carrying
out a more detailed study outlining how they would tackle the more persistent
air quality problems they have identified. Those studies will be presented to
government by 31 October 2019, at the latest. The local authorities include: Bolsover,
Bradford, Portsmouth, Broxbourne, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-on-Trent, Leicester
Portsmouth, Leicester and Newcastle-under-Lyme are also being
directed to carry out more detailed studies, but have also identified measures
that can bring forward compliance quicker.
Eighteen other local authorities are already operating
within legal limits or have not found any measures to bring compliance sooner.
They will be expected to maintain their work to reduce pollution levels and
improve the quality of the air, said the government.
The new government air pollution plan was ordered by the
High Court earlier this year following a lengthy legal battle led by campaign
It claimed that the fact that eight local authorities
would now carry out a more detailed study outlining in detail how they would
tackle the more persistent air quality problems they have identified
highlighted that air pollution was “much worse than previously feared”.
Arguing that it showed that ministers’ attempts to “pass
the buck” to local authorities had failed,
ClientEarth claimed the fact that
new plans were being drawn up highlighted that in some areas people could have
to wait until 2028 for legal levels of pollution, unless urgent action was
taken to tackle the problem.
ClientEarth clean air lawyer Katie Nield called the plan
“pitiful” and said that it was essential that the government took action on a
Ms Nield said: “Amazingly, ministers have now ordered
more plans, which means more delays. It shows a shocking lack of leadership on
a key public health issue.
“It’s absolutely staggering that only now, eight years
after legal limits came into force, the true extent of the problem is being
uncovered for large areas of the country. In the meantime, people in these
areas have continued to be exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution.”
ClientEarth is calling for a national network of clean
air zones, help and support for people and businesses to move to cleaner forms
of transport, such as a targeted scrappage scheme and new clean air laws to
protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution.