Air quality

Despite significant improvements in air quality over recent decades, air pollution continues to have an impact on people's health and evidence shows that poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. 
 
In order to help tackle air pollution, the Government has set a target for ultra-low emission cars to form 50-70 per cent of all sales in the UK by 2030, rising to all new cars and vans being effectively zero emission by 2040. This forms part of the wider Road to Zero strategy, which sets out the Government's ambition of being a world leader in zero emission vehicle technology. 
 
At a local level, the most immediate challenge on air quality is the legal targets on nitrogen dioxide concentrations around roads. I therefore welcome that Ministers have published the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, setting out how compliance can be achieved in the shortest possible time. The plan is supported by a £3.5 billion investment into air quality and cleaner transport, and outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take robust action in the shortest time possible.
 
I also welcome the dedicated funding packages set up by the Government to help support local authorities achieve this. This includes a £255 million Implementation Fund to support local authorities with a range of measures such as installing electric charge point hubs in car parks; bus priority measures; building cycle routes; and incentivising ultra-low emission taxis through licensing schemes and leasing electric vehicles. 
 
In addition, there is £220 million for a new Clean Air Fund, allowing local authorities in England to help individuals and businesses adapt to new air quality improvement measures. A range of options local authorities could consider to utilise this money, such as new park and ride services, freight consolidation centres, concessionary travel schemes and improvements to bus fleets, have been set out.
 
It is also good news that Highways England are working to reduce levels of Nitrogen Dioxide emissions on our strategic roads in the shortest possible time, supported by their £100 million Air Quality Designated Fund.