Measures to improve air quality introduced under Environment Act

Local authorities will have a new strengthened framework to improve air quality, under new plans announced by Defra today.

National Highways will work with local authorities to improve air quality, after becoming the first designated “Relevant Public Authority”, placing a legal requirement on it to work together with councils when necessary to deliver air quality standards and objectives.

While National Highways already work with local authorities to improve air quality, this statutory requirement – consulted on earlier this year – will see a more consistent approach to meeting local air quality objectives on road networks.

In addition to this, Defra has updated Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) Policy Guidance to reflect legislative changes introduced through the Environment Act 2021 and clarify roles and responsibilities within local government.

Following consultation feedback, the guidance will be amended to include:

  • A new requirement for local Air Quality Action Plans to include a timeline of clear actions that ensure Air Quality Objectives (pollution concentration limits) are met and air quality standards improve in local areas.
  • The requirement for an Air Quality Management Area to be declared within 12 months of identifying an exceedance of the air quality objectives to ensure that local councils develop Air Quality Actions Plans more quickly.
  • The requirement for local authorities to produce an Air Quality Action Plan within 18 months of declaring an Air Quality Management Area.
  • A new reminder and warning alert system to increase local council compliance with reporting on actions they are taking to improve air quality.

The Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) Technical Guidance, which is designed to support local authorities in carrying out their duties under the Environment Act, has also been updated to reflect the legislative changes introduced through the Environment Act 2021.

Environment Minister Steve Double, said: ‘These changes – delivered by our Environment Act – provide a strengthened framework for local councils to meet their air quality objectives, and will ensure that communities are protected sooner with real improvements to the air we breathe.’

Photo by Joseph Chan


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Fred ricketts
Fred ricketts
1 year ago

Another Gwango to waste our tax payers money. The Council take no notice of the Rate payers who pay their wages, their not going to listen to another body that has no power to fine them

1 year ago

My question: How will my rural local authority know if they need to declare an Air Quality Management Area? As far as I know my local authority does not measure the air quality in our villages, and not even in the town(s). At least not the fine particulates. I think they rely on a old assumption that the air is clean and empty because this is a rural area by definition. But they could be mistaken as there are plenty of diesel vehicles, buses, bonfires and chimneys in our rural area. We are not the only part of the UK like this either.There are no monitoring sites for miles. Rural (and suburban?) air quality seems to be estimated by computer modelling. But if no one measures it for real, no one really knows. Faulty thinking, no funds, optimism, denial, or a cover up? I suggest everyone asks their local council, especially in rural and suburban areas, what the council is doing about monitoring the air we breathe, if they do it at all, and if not why not. Relying on AQ data collected years ago won’t do. Each local authorty ought to have a recent report.

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