Poor air quality is the greatest environmental risk to our health. Our air is now cleaner than at any point since the industrial revolution, but there is more work to be done if we are to protect the health of our nation.
The Government’s Clean Air Strategy aims to cut air pollution and save lives, backed up by new primary legislation. The Strategy details how the UK will go further and faster than the EU in reducing exposure to particulate matter pollution. It sets out a goal to halve the number of people living in locations with concentrations of particulate matter above WHO guidelines, legislate to give councils more powers to improve air quality and ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels and stoves can be sold. I am encouraged that it has been described by the WHO as 'an example for the rest of the world to follow'.
The Environment Bill will build on this Strategy, and highlight our drive to go further to clean up our air and fight air pollution so children and young people can live longer healthier lives. The Bill will set an ambitious, legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter, and increase local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to work with families to cut harmful pollution from domestic burning by using cleaner fuels. This target will be among the most ambitious in the world and improve the quality of millions of people’s lives.
This action supplements the £3.5 billion plan announced in 2017 to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles. The investment includes £1 billion to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, nearly £0.5 billion to help local authorities implement local air quality plans and about £90 million through the Green Bus fund.