Government unveils fund to tackle air pollution

Local authorities in some of the most polluted parts of the UK will be able to access a multi-million pound fund to boost air quality levels in their area.

The government has unveiled a £220m fund to improve air quality plus a £40m support scheme for local authorities to combat air pollution, part of a £3.5billion plan to improve air quality and cut emissions.

The Clean Air Fund enables councils to access a range of measures to improve air quality such as park and ride services, improvements to bus fleets, freight consolidation centres and concessionary travel schemes.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “We have been clear that local leaders are best placed to develop innovative plans that rapidly meet the needs of their communities. Today’s funding demonstrates the government’s commitment to support the local momentum needed and continue to improve our air now and for future generations.

“Improving air quality is about more than just tackling emissions from transport, so later this year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy. This will set out how we will address all forms of air pollution, delivering cleaner air for the whole country.”

A UK-wide plan for tackling the major pollution threat of roadside nitrogen dioxide concentration was agreed in July 2017, outlining how councils could combat air pollution at road junctions and hotspots. That £220m fund has now been formalised. More than £35m will be granted to the 28 local authorities exposed to the worst cases of air pollution, enabling them to install electric charging points, build cycle routes and invest in ultra-low emission taxis.

More money will be used by councils conducting feasibility studies to identify ‘quick fix solutions’ to improving air quality.

Earlier this month, an unprecedented new report compiled by four MP committees accused the Government of viewing air quality as a “box-ticking exercise” and called for a new Clean Air Act to be introduced.