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18/03/2020

Government announces £2m air pollution funds

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The government has announced that its Air Quality Grant will provide £2.2 million in funding for local authorities across England. 

The money is to support schemes that help councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and residents, reducing the impact on people’s health and creating cleaner and healthier environments.

The grant funding forms part of a wider UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, including a £3.5 billion investment into air quality and cleaner transport.

The government has said that air quality has “improved significantly” over recent decades, and since 2010 the nitrogen oxide (NO2) concentration has been down by 33 per cent. 

The NO2 plan and Air Quality Grant (launched in 1997) has enabled the government to work with 61 local authorities, providing £880 million in funding to reduce NO2 concentrations through local plans that are “effective, fair, good value, and will deliver required improvements in the shortest time possible”.

Projects and campaigns that are proposed for the funding include:

  • reducing harmful emissions outside schools;
  • encouraging the take-up of electric taxis;
  • encouraging more active transport through education, awareness, and the creation and improvement of cycling and pedestrian routes; and 
  • collecting further data on the exposure to air pollution by vulnerable groups to better design future policies.

Rebecca Pow, the environment minister, said: “While air pollution has reduced significantly in recent decades, we know the impact that it continues to have on communities in the UK. That is why the government is committed to not only improving air quality on a national level, but also helping local authorities take action in their own areas.

“The projects supported by this latest round of funding demonstrate how local authorities can deliver innovative solutions for their communities, and we’ll be working with them closely to offer ongoing support.”

Rachel Maclean, transport minister, added: “It’s important that we improve air quality in communities across the country, and these grants will help local authorities to create cleaner, healthier places to live.

“From greener buses to improved cycling routes, we’re determined to harness innovation to make low-carbon travel the norm.”

The government has also recently taken action to cut pollution from households burning Particulate Matter (PM2.5), the most harmful air pollutant for human health, by phasing out the sale of coal and wet wood for domestic burning and encouraging the use of cleaner fuels in the home.

Image credit | iStock 

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