New Bill gives Welsh Government greater ability to tackle air and noise pollution

The Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill was introduced to the Senedd yesterday, giving the Welsh Government greater ability to tackle air and noise pollution.

The Bill is a key step in bringing forward measures that will contribute to improvements in the quality of the air environment in Wales and reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health, biodiversity, the natural environment and the economy. Wales will be the first part of the UK to include soundscape in legislation, committing the Welsh Government to not only tackle unwanted noise, but to protect certain sounds too, such as birdsong.

a sign on the side of a brick building

In summary, the bill will

  • provide a framework for setting national air quality targets;
  • amend existing legislation relating to:
    • the national air quality strategy,
    • local air quality management,
    • smoke control,
    • trunk road charging schemes; and
    • vehicle idling;
  • place a duty on Welsh Ministers to promote awareness of air pollution;
  • place a duty on Welsh Ministers to publish a national soundscape strategy, and
  • give the Welsh Ministers a power to amend existing legislation relating to noise

A written statement accompanying the bill says; ‘The Bill needs to be seen in a broad context, and not in isolation. It is a crucial part of a package of measures set out in our Clean Air Plan to reduce airborne pollution and improve the air environment in Wales.’

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: ‘Our Programme for Government sets out a commitment to introduce a Clean Air Bill for Wales and I am delighted we have reached the first stage in our legislative journey which will lead the way to a cleaner, healthier and greener future.

‘The scale and scope of the Bill reflects our commitment to improving the quality of our air environment at a Wales-wide level, at a local and regional level and throughout society.’

Joseph Carter, Chair of Healthy Air Cymru and Head of Asthma & Lung UK Cymru, said: ‘We should be able to walk down the street knowing the air we breathe is safe and healthy. Air pollution is one of the most pressing public health issues we face, contributing to the deaths of over 2000 people a year in Wales. It affects the most vulnerable in our society who have done the least to cause it, and it is especially damaging to our children’s developing lungs. Furthermore, it is bad for the planet, since some of the air pollutants emitted by our vehicles are causing the climate to warm up.

‘This clean air legislation is not only a huge win for Welsh lungs but also an important milestone in our journey towards a greener, fairer, and healthier future, where we walk and cycle more and use the car less. We call on all parties to work together to make this Bill as strong as possible.’

Air quality support fund announced

The Welsh Government have followed up the introduction of the bill today by announcing a £1m fund to  support local authorities in Wales to deliver local air quality improvements in 2023-2024. The money is available for projects that prevent air pollution, mitigate it or involve ‘innovative methods or technologies to improve air quality and/or reduce exposure.’


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1 year ago

Sounds very positive. Thank you for telling us, Paul. Le’s hope for some action next, such as a ban on idling engines outside schools, surgeries and busy shopping areas. A ban on bonfires would be great too, but we can’t see that happening jsut yet, more’s the pity. Councils will need to sort out their recylcing and composting facilities first. And what about more proper air quality monitoring in our rural Welsh towns? As far as we know, there’s none for fine particulates in the north and mid Wales counties. The internet forecasts and daily reported levels come from computer modelling based on weather and measurements made at Wrexham and in south Wales. Please correct me if I’m wrong. it’s all very well putting in more money but what’s it going to be spent on? ifr we don’t know how bad, or good, the actual air quality is where we live, work and go to school, well how can we know what needs attention?

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