Clean Air Strategy published by Government

The Clean Air Strategy 2019 sets out how the Government intends to tackle sources of air pollution, improve air quality, protecting nature and grow the economy.

The Strategy promises to bring UK air quality into line with WHO guidelines and includes a target to halve the population exposed to particulate matter (exceeding WHO guidelines). It proposes new policies to tackle emissions from biomass and agriculture, and reiterates the commitment to phase out sales of new conventional cars from 2040.

Aspects of the Strategy have been welcomed including its focus on all sectors including agriculture and construction as well as actions to address indoor air quality.

However, there have been criticisms over the lack of urgency around some measures included in the strategy, the limited focus on transport, and a missed opportunity to develop more clean air zones. Calls have been made for legally binding limits to be defined in the Environment Bill.

Birmingham City Council will implement their Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from 01 January 2020 including charging for vehicles driving into the CAZ along with a range of other measures. The Business Breathes website provides information for businesses operating within the CAZ.

The West Midlands Combined Authority are currently working with consultants to develop their Low Emission Strategy and Action Plan which is likely to be formally launched in Autumn 2019 and has the following objectives:

Support for local action – Joint action between local authorities, the WMCA and other stakeholders where this will accelerate existing agreed local plans to tackle air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Social, economic, and environment outcomes – accelerated activity will result in improved health, such as reduction in premature deaths and health inequalities, economic productivity, such as reduced congestion and attraction of new business, and an improved natural environment.

Attract investors – help to scale up opportunities to attract investors to fund innovation, manufacturing and deployment of solutions both locally and for export. Underpin the WMCA ambition to produce the UK’s first ‘clean, inclusive, and resilient growth’ local industrial strategy and inform relevant bids such as future Industrial Strategy ‘grand challenges’.

SWM hope that the national framework set out in the Clean Air Strategy 2019, along with the local strategy for the WMCA and the measures included in the Birmingham CAZ will lead to positive improvements in our regions air quality, and subsequently on our health and environment.