Thank you for contacting me about air quality.
I fully agree that poor air quality is the greatest environmental risk to our health. Our air is now cleaner than at any point since the industrial revolution, but there is more work to be done if we are to protect the health of our nation.
The Government’s Clean Air Strategy aims to cut air pollution and save lives, backed up by new primary legislation. The Strategy details how the UK will go further and faster than the EU in reducing exposure to particulate matter pollution. It sets out a goal to halve the number of people living in locations with concentrations of particulate matter above WHO guidelines, legislate to give councils more powers to improve air quality and ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels and stoves can be sold. I am encouraged that it has been described by the WHO as 'an example for the rest of the world to follow'.
The Environment Bill will build on this Strategy, and highlight our drive to go further to clean up our air and fight air pollution so children and young people can live longer healthier lives. The Bill sets an ambitious, legally-binding target to reduce fine particulate matter, and increase local powers to address sources of air pollution, enabling local authorities to work with families to cut harmful pollution from domestic burning by using cleaner fuels. This target will be among the most ambitious in the world and improve the quality of millions of people’s lives.
Action must be taken on the air pollutant that has the most significant impact on human health. I am therefore pleased that the Environment Bill will establish a legally binding duty to set a target for PM2.5. The Government is committed to setting challenging targets and following an evidence-based process, seeking advice from a range of experts, in addition to considering the WHO’s air quality guidelines. Any target must be based on robust science and full economic analysis to ensure that it is both ambitious and achievable, and focus on how the greatest public health benefits can be achieved.
The Clean Air Zone Framework is designed to help the transition to a low emission economy, allowing individuals and businesses to make straightforward economic decisions about which vehicles to purchase, and how and when they use them. The framework is also designed to encourage local authorities to explore promoting sustainable alternative modes of transport.
This action supplements the £3.5 billion investment into air quality and cleaner transport.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP