The Mayors of London and Greater Manchester are among 17 city leaders who united last week behind what they are calling the “world’s most ambitious clean air plan”.
The mayors and council leaders – together representing 20 million people – signed the plan at a the end of the 2019 National Clean Air Summit in London, which follows the release of the National Air Quality Strategy last month and focused on determining what local governments needed to support the strategy and tackle the country’s air pollution problems.
The leaders called for seven major provisions, including legally-binding targets and timelines, the necessary power and resources for sub-national authorities to implement legislation supportive of cleaner air, and an independent watchdog to ensure accountability.
They also want the government’s proposed Environment Bill to be renamed the Clean Air and Environment Bill.
These are the provisions in the new plan:
• Adopt World Health Organisation recommended air pollution limits as legally binding targets to be achieved by 2030 to guarantee the highest health standards that are supported by improved monitoring that assesses air quality and the powers to enforce.
• Create an independent watchdog that is adequately funded and empowered to hold the Government to account, including through legal action and the levelling of fines, and review and be able to require action needed to reduce air pollution from Government and other public bodies such as Highways England.
• Grant Local Authorities the powers they need, with necessary resources, to deliver zero emission transport networks.
• Enable the setting and enforcement of ambitious standards for local air quality, including for solid fuel stoves. Including powers for regional authorities to control emissions from other fixed sources, such as boilers and combined heat and power sources as well as set energy efficiency standards including for existing buildings.
• Establish adequately resourced local powers to set and enforce emission zones for Non-Road Mobile Machinery such as construction, industry and agricultural equipment.
• Require co-ordinated action from private and public bodies to improve air quality, such as: ports, Highways England, Network Rail, Homes England, Environment Agency and Directors of Public Health, and provide necessary resource to enable activity.
The event was held in London by the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, the UK100 group of local authorities and UNICEF UK, and also attended by Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock.
The authorities calling for greater action are those of: Greater London, Greater Manchester, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford, Bristol, Leicester, Newcastle, Bath, Southampton, Sheffield, Bradford, Nottingham, Cornwall, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Many of these cities are already taking action against air pollution in response to instructions in 2017 from the national government to develop clean air plans to tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide on local roads.
Among other actions, London is due to introduce an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in April this year with associated supportive measures, while Greater Manchester is in the midst of developing a Clean Air Plan, having shortlisted the most effective potential measures for bringing down air pollution in its territory.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide, mostly produced by diesel vehicles, have breached limits set by the European Union in most urban areas in the UK since 2010.
Read the press release on the UK100 website: City leaders representing 20 million people sign up to world’s most ambitious clean air plan
Banner photo from london.gov.uk.