15 May 2024
Air Quality

Air pollution is the biggest single environmental threat to public health and Ministers are continuing to take robust action to improve air quality and minimise public health impacts. Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010: emissions of nitrogen dioxide have fallen by 45 per cent, sulphur emissions have fallen by 73 per cent and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions have fallen by 10 per cent.

Through the Environment Act 2021, the Government has a target to have an annual mean concentration target for PM2.5 levels at 10 micrograms per cubic metre or below by 2040, as well as a target to reduce population exposure to PM2.5 by 35 per cent by 2040 (compared to 2018). Recent figures show that good progress is being made, with maximum concentration levels decreasing to 12 micrograms per cubic metre.

Ministers have placed a duty on local authorities to keep air pollution within legal limits. The Government provided £883m of funding to help local authorities implement local nitrogen dioxide air quality plans. As set out in the Environmental Improvement Plan, the Government will challenge local authorities to improve air quality quicker by assessing their performance and use of existing powers, while supporting them with clear guidance, funding, and tools.

Further, the Air Quality Grant helps councils to develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health. I understand that since 2010, over £53 million has been awarded, supporting more than 500 projects through the scheme.

Air quality in England is improving and the Government is continuing to further reduce pollution. This is an issue I will continue to monitor closely.