Draft Air Quality Strategy a step forwards but more work needed to ensure that targets are hit

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has welcomed the draft Air Quality Strategy but identified six areas for improvement to ensure it results in Government targets being met.

Dame Glenys Stacey, Chair of the OEP, said: “There is much to commend in the proposed Air Quality Strategy. There is a welcome focus on the role of local authorities, with coherent actions for them and Government.

“It is good that the draft provides coherence between the wide range of related Government actions and plans, including the revised Environmental Improvement Plan, EIP23. We applaud the consideration of both outdoor pollution concentrations and pollution emissions, and indoor air quality, which has previously been considered separately.

“We also welcome the proposals on a design stage emissions approach to planning, and the use of environmental assessments as a tool for enabling this.

"But we found in our recent EIP monitoring report that targets for air quality are not demonstrably on track. It is not clear that the strategy as drafted will result in the Government meeting those targets.

“We make six recommendations that, if followed, will improve the prospects for success.”

The six OEP recommendations are for:

  • Further join-up with relevant policies, strategies and publications to make the strategy comprehensive, clear and up to date
  • Monitoring and evaluation to start immediately
  • Emerging risks to be considered and planned for
  • A clear plan to deliver PM2.5 targets
  • Stronger provisions for local authorities with PM2.5 hotspots
  • Supplementary guidance on reducing ammonia emissions to be provided

Dame Glenys added: “If successful, the Air Quality Strategy can make the biggest possible difference to the health and well-being of the nation and enhance the natural environment. Our recommendations are designed to improve the prospects of success.”

The OEP’s full response has now been published and can be found by clicking on the blue button on this page. Click here to access relevant research commissioned by the OEP.

The Government has now published its Air Quality Strategy and the OEP will be considering it in detail in due course.