Exclusive: Jo Churchill on what the government is doing to tackle air pollution

Agri-innovation and Climate Adaptation Minister, Jo Churchill MP explains what action the government is taking to deliver cleaner air this Clean Air Day. 
Air pollution harms every organ in the body, shortens lives and is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. We have a responsibility to ensure that everyone is able to breathe clean air which is essential for life, health, the environment and the economy.
Clean Air Day, coordinated by Global Action Plan and supported by Defra since 2017, is a chance for us to reflect and focus our attention on air pollution. Throughout the country today hundreds of events will be taking place to promote a shift in air quality awareness and to showcase that a future with cleaner air is both possible and desirable. And today I will be meeting with the renowned professor and physician Stephen Holgate to discuss how we can work with the medical community to increase public awareness and understanding of air quality issues.
But improving public awareness is not enough. Since 2010 the Government has taken decisive action to cut air pollution across the board. As a result, emissions of fine particulate matter, the most damaging known pollutant to human health, have fallen by 18%, while emissions of nitrogen dioxide have fallen by 44% and are at their lowest since records began. While emissions continue to fall year-on-year, there is clearly much more to do and our Clean Air Strategy, which aims to halve the harm from air pollution in the UK by 2030, sets out how we will go further and faster in reducing people’s exposure to dirty air.
Since 2010 we have awarded more than £42 million through the Air Quality Grant programme and earlier this year we doubled the amount of annual funding available through it to help councils implement the measures needed to reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health. This included over £1 million for projects to improve public awareness of air pollution and we are now working with a bespoke group of air quality experts in public health, behavioural science, as well as representatives from vulnerable groups to produce a comprehensive review of how we communicate air quality information to ensure that all members of the public have what they need to protect themselves and understand their impact on air quality.
Later this year we will be bringing forward two new ambitious air quality targets under our ground-breaking Environment Act to reduce the level of harmful fine particulate matter in the air. In addition to this the Act has made it easier for local authorities to use their existing powers to tackle sources of air pollution in their areas, as well as for the Government to mandate recalls of vehicles when they do not meet legal emission standards.
This government has committed billions to clean up transport and to tackle air pollution, including £883 million to help local authorities develop and implement local air quality plans and to support those impacted by these plans. It’s part of this Government’s wider support for air quality and cleaner transport supported by the Prime Minister’s commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans 10 years earlier than planned, part of his 10 Point Plant for a Green Industrial Revolution.
We will continue to work closely with local authorities and groups such as Global Action Plan to support campaigns like Clean Air Day which bring people together by highlighting the actions we can all take to improve our air quality and our health. This government will continue to show the leadership needed to make a future in which we enjoy the benefits of cleaner air a reality.
Photo supplied by DEFRA


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top