The Environment Secretary has published a Clean Air Strategy that outlines the government’s ambitions to reduce air pollution, protect nature and boost the economy.
Michael Gove’s wide-reaching strategy will sit with three other important strategies: Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.
The Clean Air Strategy will target a range of industries, with the transport sector chief amongst them. Already, that particular sector has been targeted by the government, who released a £3.5 billion plan last July to reduce air pollution from road transport and diesel vehicles.
The need to go further is clear, with air pollution fourth behind cancer, obesity and heart disease as the biggest threats to public health.
If the Clean Air Strategy is implemented, costs of air pollution to society will be reduced by approximately £1 billion each year by 2020; this is expected to rise to £2.5 billion every year from 2030.
As part of the strategy, legislation will be introduced to give local government powers to improve air quality, and further legislation will ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels will be available for sale.
The government has also made it clear it will work with international partners in order to research and develop new standards for tyres and brakes, which will address the toxic non-exhaust emissions of micro plastics from vehicles that can pollute air and water.
The Clean Air Strategy acknowledges that levels of nitrogen dioxide at the roadside are at the lowest level since these statistics were created, falling almost 27% between 2010 and 2016.
However, it is also clear that road transport, shipping, aviation and rail are responsible for “significant” proportion of air pollutant emissions.
Therefore, transport will play a key role in the reduction of emissions and meeting the government’s objectives on the environment and public health.
Michael Gove commented: “Air quality has improved significantly since 2010 but 60 years on from the historic Clean Air Act a clear truth remains – air pollution is making people ill, shortening lives and damaging our economy and environment.
“That is why we are launching this Clean Air Strategy, backed up with new primary legislation.”