The government has launched two consultations on proposals to help make it easier for local authorities tackle air pollution in their areas.
The first consultation is seeking views on increased engagement between local authorities and the communities they serve, with an increased focus on the impact of air quality on people’s health.
Reduced exposure to air pollution can prevent thousands of cases of heart disease, stroke, asthma and lung cancer and lower health inequalities between and within communities.
Local authorities have a legal obligation to monitor, assess and act to improve air quality in their areas in delivering their Air Quality Action Plans (AQAPs).
The Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) guidance which is also being consulted on will help them improve ways in cleaning up the air and ensuring their overall air quality objectives are met.
The Environment Act gives the Environment Secretary the power to designated “relevant public authorities” who must play a role in improving air quality, subject to consultation.
The second consultation proposes to designate National Highways as a relevant public authority to ensure more consistent collaboration with local authorities to reduce road pollution.
If it goes ahead, National Highways will have to commit to measures to help bring roads back to compliance wherever transport using a major highway has contributed to local air quality limits being exceeded, with the measures all included in AQAPs.
Both consultations are designed to significantly contribute to the successful implementation of AQAPs and ensure air quality standards are met.
Environment Minister Jo Churchill said: “Air quality is our priority, and these consultations will build on a swathe of other actions that we are already taking to help local authorities clean up our air.
“We all want to see improved air quality in every part of our country, helping health outcomes and reducing health inequalities between and within communities. Coupled with recent funding announcements and our consultation on air quality targets under the Environment Act, we will drive forward long-lasting change to the air we breathe.”