Following today’s launch of the Government’s new Clean Air Strategy, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), has praised the Government for starting to listen on air quality, but warned that progress can only be measured when the final legislation is made clear.
The new strategy, part of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, would see primary legislation introduced to create a new legal air quality framework and give local government new powers to take action.
The Government claims that these proposals will cut the costs of air pollution to society by an estimated £1 billion every year by 2020, rising to £2.5 billion every year from 2030
The new strategy sets out the steps the Government will take to tackle the air pollution crisis in the United Kingdom, and claims to go further and faster than the EU in reducing human exposure to particulate matter pollution.
Environmental Health Professionals are the major group of professionals, operating within local government, whose role is focused on delivering air quality.
Tony Lewis, Head of Policy at CIEH, said:
“Like many, we have been waiting for this strategy to see if the Government intends to start living up to its recent promises on the environment, and we are happy to see the commitment to consulting on, and introducing, primary legislation to start tackling the very real air quality crisis this country faces.
We also welcome the commitment to legislate against the sale and combustion of known polluting fuels, as long as this is practical and sensible, and does not discriminate against the most disadvantaged in society.
However, whilst giving local government the powers to take much-needed action is a step forwards, there must be clear leadership from central government. There cannot be simply more abdication of responsibilities to an already over stretched and ill resourced local government sector.
The Government has made a number of announcements over the past 12 months on air quality, and all of them have so far fallen short of what is expected. The NO2 strategy, the poor effectiveness of Clean Air Zones, and the lack of action to remove heavily polluting vehicles from our roads, have all pointed to a government failing to get a grip on the issues.
We sincerely hope that this new Clean Air Strategy is a sign the Government is finally listening and taking air quality seriously, and we look forward to working with DEFRA to ensure that the legislation eventually put before parliament is robust.”