Environment Secretary Michael Gove will launch an new clean air strategy to tackle air pollution today (22 May), with measures announced in addition to last year’s road transport and diesel plans.
The new strategy, which is now out for consultation, sets out a goal that by 2025, the number of people living in locations where concentrations of particulate matter are above the WHO guideline limit of 10 ug/m3 is halved.
New primary legislation will be introduced to give local government new powers to improve air quality.
New standards for tyres and brakes will be researched and developed to address toxic non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles which can pollute air and water.
The strategy proposes new clean air legislation will enable the Transport Secretary to compel manufacturers to recall vehicles and machinery for any failures in their emissions control system, and make tampering with an emissions control system a legal offence.
The strategy announces plans for a personal air quality messaging system to inform the public, particularly those who are vulnerable to air pollution, about the air quality forecast, providing clearer information on air pollution episodes and accessible health advice.
The strategy also sets out how the government will work with media outlets to improve public access to the air quality forecast and help individuals and organisations reduce their contribution to air pollution.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton has criticised the strategy, saying “While the government’s focus on air quality from different sources is welcome, road transport is still the main source of illegal air pollution in our towns and cities. We need a national network of Clean Air Zones to take the most polluting vehicles out of the most polluted areas.
“We also want the government to commit to a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st Century. Ministers should enshrine people’s right to breathe clean air in UK law and drive greater ambition to protect their health.”
Meanwhile Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce a new tool to enable local authorities to estimate the economic impact of air pollution in their area. The tool takes account of the cumulative cost for diseases where there is a strong association with air pollution: coronary heart disease; stroke; lung cancer; and child asthma.