Consultation or engagement – the best approach for air quality action plans?

I have recently been involved in reviewing an air quality action plan for a client and recalled my days working for a London local authority and drafting statutory plans. It made me think about public consultation in a post covid world and how we should seek to involve the people, for whom we are designing and delivering air quality solutions, into planning them.

The emergence of multi-media digital and geographical consultation platforms makes it easier for local authorities to engage with a wide and diverse audience. This is often best achieved by working with specialist consultancy firms with experience of developing engaging approaches to collaborate with residents and businesses.

Increasingly, a strong environmental voice can be heard loud and clear through the consultation process. This, in conjunction with improved public access to structured open-source data, can support evidence-based policies and projects developed through informed two-way dialogue.

The Sixth Climate Budget report sets out the essential role of societal and behavioural change alongside and combined with low carbon technology and fuels.

If these current and future environmental targets are to be met, as set out in the delayed Environmental Bill, changes need to be made to many of areas of our lifestyles. The recent announcement of radical new climate change commitments during the run up to COP26 later this year means that there are going to be some interesting decisions for us all to make.

Most transport and environmental strategies I have seen recently recognise the cross-cutting challenges we face in a post covid world. They also point towards where behaviour change and personal choice is required to meet these challenges. We all have our part to play.

Many current technological and engineering solutions such as clean air zones and, dare I say low emission neighbourhoods, to improve local air quality also have significant co-benefits including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the transport sector.

As public health and climate emergency strategies, decision making, budgets and goals start to align with wide-ranging public support, the potential exists for the whole to be greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Clean Air Day this year is 17th June, and I am reaching out to all Air Quality News readers to make a personal pledge as part of this year’s campaign. And to [mis] quote a song from the best second album ever recorded*, join with me and let’s start the revolution from our beds.

*answers on a postcard/or modern equivalent

For further information please contact Nick on 07767 833 034

By Nick Ruxton-Boyle, director of environment, Marston Holdings


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