£10.7m in funding for local authorities to improve air quality
Local authorities across England have been granted almost £11 million in the latest round of funding for projects that will improve air quality.
The money, from the Government’s annual Air Quality Grant, helps councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health.
This year’s grants total £10.7 million, with funding supporting programmes that will educate doctors, nurses and social care workers about air quality; electrify a diesel refuse collection vehicle and procure an electric road sweeper in Blaby, Leicestershire; and roll out monitoring sensors to make real-time air quality information available to the public in Lewisham, south London.
On Tyneside, a long-term campaign aimed at schools and pollution hotspots in residential areas will educate people of all ages about the dangers of air pollution, whilst an Air Quality Officer will be employed in Cornwall to visit schools.
Funding will also support an e-cargo bike library, helping local businesses in Norfolk to cut operating costs while lowering their emissions; and the implementation of a river freight scheme in Westminster which will serve as a greener alternative to the use of more polluting vehicles in the city.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:
“We have made great strides in tackling air pollution at a national level since 2010, but we must do more to improve air quality and protect public health.
“From Tyneside to Cornwall, this funding will support a range of inspiring and innovative projects across the country – stepping up our monitoring of harmful pollutants, educating the public and boosting the use of green transport.
“This builds on our world-leading Environment Act commitments that will enhance our natural environment and safeguard public health for future generations.”
The government is taking decisive action to cut air pollution. Through the Environment Act, the government has set two legally-binding targets to reduce the level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – the most harmful pollutant to human health – in our air by 2040.
The Environmental Improvement Plan – published last week to build on the vision set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – set out interim targets to reduce concentrations of, and reduce public exposure to, PM2.5 by the end of January 2028, alongside a range of policies to work towards these targets.
The Plan also committed to challenging councils to improve air quality more quickly by assessing their performance and use of existing powers, while supporting them with clear guidance, funding and tools. Moreover, it pledged to improve the way air quality information is communicated with the public. Today’s announcement demonstrates key steps forward in the delivery of these commitments.
This latest grant funding means that around £53 million has been awarded across almost 500 projects through the Air Quality Grant scheme since 2010.
£883 million has been made available as part of the government’s NO2 Plan to support local authorities in cleaning up transport and cutting levels of nitrogen dioxide down to legal levels in the shortest possible time. More widely, the government has already spent over £2 billion to support the move to zero emission vehicles, helping drive forward the decarbonisation of the UK’s entire transport system. Funding is available from the Department for Transport for local authorities, as well as businesses, charities, private rental accommodation, flats and social housing with off-street parking spaces, to install electric vehicle charge-points and infrastructure. These actions will deliver better air quality for all.
Together, these projects have contributed to the significant improvement in air quality seen in the UK in recent decades. Since 2010, emissions of fine particulate matter have fallen by 18%, while emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 44% and sulphur dioxide by 70%.