The Government of the United Kingdom is calling for consultation on a new draft Clean Air Strategy, whose proposed actions could 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.
It outlines actions to improve air quality by reducing pollution from a wide range of sources, likely affecting the interests of a broad range of stakeholders.
The draft strategy is intended to complement a number of existing strategies, including the 2017 UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, and “sits alongside” three other overarching strategies: its Industrial Strategy, its Clean Growth Strategy, and its 25 Year Environment Plan.
The strategy would be underpinned by new legislation and enforcement mechanisms, including “England-wide powers to control major sources of air pollution, in line with the risk they pose to public health and the environment” as well as new local powers to take action in areas with air pollution problems.
The main themes on which consultation is sought are:
• the understanding of the problem;
• protecting the nation’s health;
• protecting the environment;
• securing clean growth and innovation;
• reducing emissions from transport;
• reducing emissions from farming;
• reducing emissions from industry;
• leadership; and
• the strategy document as a whole (progress against targets).
The final UK Clean Air Strategy and detailed National Air Pollution Control Programme is to be published by March 2019.
Air quality in the UK has improved significantly since 1970, including a decrease in particulate matter of 73 per cent and in nitrogen oxides by 69 per cent. Between 2010 and 2015, total emissions of nitrogen oxides fell by a further 19 per cent.
According to the consultation invitation, the UK has “already adopted ambitious, legally binding international targets to reduce emissions of five of the most damaging air pollutants (fine particulate matter, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds) by 2020 and 2030.”
“We are now also proposing tough new goals to cut public exposure to particulate matter pollution, as suggested by the World Health Organisation,” it said.
The consultation lasts 12 weeks, closing just before midnight on 14 August 2018.