Air pollution

£11.6m funding boost for local authorities to tackle air pollution

Local authorities across England have been granted £11.6m in government funding to deliver projects to improve air quality.

The money, from the government’s Air Quality Grant, helps councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health.

More than double the funding awarded in 2021 has been made available for this year’s grant, meaning a raft of innovative projects to deliver air quality improvements are being supported.

This includes over £1m of funding for projects that will deliver measures to improve public awareness in local communities about the risks of air pollution.

This follows a recommendation in the Coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths report after the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013.

The government said they are taking bold action to cut air pollution through the Environment Act, which requires two new targets to be set to reduce the level of fine particulate matter in the air.

A public consultation on these targets will be held shortly.

The announcement means that more than £42m has been awarded through the Air Quality Grant since 2010 across almost 500 projects.

Commenting, Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation, Jo Churchill said:

“Air pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. It has reduced significantly since 2010, but we know there is more to do, which is why we have doubled the amount of funding awarded this year to help local authorities take vital action.

“The projects supported by this latest round of funding include innovative local schemes to boost the use of green transport, increase monitoring of fine particulate matter, the most harmful pollutant to human health, and improve awareness of the risks of poor air quality around schools and in care homes.

“Local authorities are best placed to find solutions to the issues they face in their areas and we will continue to work closely with them and offer support to help deliver real change in cleaning up our air.”

Proposals which have won funding include projects and campaigns to:

  • Encourage the uptake of green transport, including e-bikes through improved cycling and scooter infrastructure and retrofit projects.
  • Promote efficient driving practices that will reduce pollution, such as turning your engine off rather than idling.
  • Enhance educational programmes for schoolchildren.
  • Introduce air quality measures in and around care homes.

These projects complement the wider UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

The government said the plan is supporting the uptake of low emissions vehicles, getting more people to cycle and walk, as well as encouraging cleaner public transport.

They said that it also contributes towards meeting the objectives of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Clean Air Strategy 2019, which has been praised by the World Health Organisation as ‘an example for the rest of the world to follow’.

Transport Minister, Trudy Harrison added:

“Active travel and the switch to zero emission transport plays a huge role in improving air quality and we’re committed to creating cleaner, faster and more efficient ways of getting from A to B.

“As we accelerate towards our net zero targets, funding announced today will help make our lives healthier by reducing our carbon footprint and supporting economic growth right across the country.”

The government also said that they are taking bold action to cut air pollution through the Environment Act, which makes it easier for local authorities to address sources of air pollution in their areas.

As well as this, it also allows the government to mandate recalls of vehicles that do not meet legal emission standards.

PSE will be hosting a Public Sector Decarbonisation in association with Liberty Charge virtual event on 17 March 2022. Join us for the full day event by registering here.

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