News story

Government launches air quality consultation

A consultation launches today to seek views on what local and national action can be taken to improve air quality.

Today the government has launched a consultation to seek views from local and transport authorities, businesses and members of the public on what local action can be taken to improve air quality.

Plans for how our great towns and cities can reduce emissions and create cleaner neighbourhoods and high streets have been released alongside a national framework that seeks to bring the UK into compliance with limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in a number of areas by 2020 and in London by 2025.

Our environment has never been cleaner and even our busiest cities have seen falls in harmful emissions, with a 15 per cent reduction in average roadside concentrations of NO2 since 2010. But further action is needed at a local and national level to meet clean air targets, especially in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby.

The plans released for consultation today outline how new, green technology can be exploited to create communities where people want to live and work, while boosting our growing economy and making Britain a world leader in low emission technology.

Building on the success of similar schemes across the UK, the plans ask local authorities who are facing particular challenges to look at further action such as creating Clean Air Zones, introducing low emission buses and taxis, and using data to inform new road layouts.

Options local authorities can consider include:

  • networks of electric car charging points
  • introducing low emission buses and taxis or converting fleets
  • upgrading cycling infrastructure
  • introducing or expanding park and ride schemes

London is already leading the way in embracing new technology and planning tools and in 2020 will introduce the UK’s first ultra-low emission zone. The first fully electric bus route in the UK will launch later this month in Croydon and by 2020 there will be 300 electric buses running in central London and 3,000 double-decker hybrid buses.

The capital has shown that action to create cleaner air, including the introduction of the Low Emission Zone, can go hand-in-hand with continuing economic success.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

Clean air is vital to our health and our environment and for making sure our cities are attractive places for people to live and work. Our ambition is to make the UK a country with some of the very best air quality in the world – a cleaner, healthier environment will benefit both people and our economy.

Tackling air pollution is a priority for this government, and we want local authorities and members of the public to come forward and share ideas on action to be taken at local level to make our nation cleaner. From improving bus and taxi fleets to investing in cycling infrastructure and upgrading roads so they run more smoothly, we want to work with our great cities and help them make changes to become greater still.

Helping communities improve their local air quality will support national plans to tackle air quality, which together will seek to create some of the cleanest cities in the world whilst putting Britain at the forefront of green technology.

The move towards embracing clean technology – including the government’s ambition that almost every car and van on our roads will be zero emission by 2050 – will be incentivised by at least £200 million of government grants for plug-in cars and vans and £50 million of support for local authorities and transport operators to convert their taxis and clean up bus fleets. The move will also generate new jobs and significantly boost our growing economy.

Elizabeth Truss added:

The UK has always been a pioneer of new technology and we have already invested heavily in green transport – committing £2 billion since 2011.

Our plans will see us go even further and we will make our cities even greater by creating cleaner, healthier environments. Supporting the development of these new technologies will create thousands of new jobs and further grow the economy.

And to spur further innovation we have opened up our data so that the whole country – people, businesses and the public sector – can use it to take better decisions and action.