Environmental bodies critical of air quality plan

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has criticised the government’s air quality proposals, which it claims ‘shifts the burden’ for tackling air pollution to local authorities.

The membership body for environmental health professionals has released details of its submission to the government’s consultation on plans to improve air quality in the UK which ends today (15 June).

Environmental bodies have criticised plans to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions

A copy of the government’s draft Air Quality Plan was published for consultation on 5 May, after the government had been unsuccessful in its bid to delay publication of the proposals until after the General Election (see story).

Within the plan, the government has stated: “Local authorities are already responsible for improving air quality in their area, but will now be expected to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.”


Responding today, Tony Lewis, head of policy at CIEH, has criticised the approach. He said: “The government’s proposals are woefully inadequate to tackle air pollution and place far too much responsibility on the shoulders of our over-stretched local authorities.

“We stand on the cliff-edge of a national public health emergency and these plans are devoid of substantive proposals, timescales for addressing the key challenges, clarity around targets or even availability of resources to support necessary actions.”

CIEH has also expressed concerns that government has focused on Clean Air Zones within its proposals, which it has claimed are viewed as a ‘panacea’ to solving air pollution.

The membership body has suggested that CAZs are similar to Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), which have been operating across the UK for many years. But, rather than providing a solution to air pollution, CIEH claims that AQMAs have demonstrated “often lead to problem hotspots being relocated elsewhere.”


Also responding to the consultation the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) has described the proposals as a ‘missed opportunity’ to tackle air pollution.

The organisation stated: “The draft 2017 AQP does not actually commit to practical measures to tackle the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide and is instead largely a plan to make another plan. It also fails to provide a clear timetable or plan for meeting air quality limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It fails to address national policies that are identified as contributing to the problem.”


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