Government Plan to meet NO2 limits is incomplete and unclear says the CIEH

Publication Date: 19th January 2016

Subject: Environmental protection

Defra’s final Air Quality Plan, released just before Christmas, is incomplete and fails to give local authorities all the help they need the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has said.

In the Plan*, published on 17 December 2015 shortly before the deadline set by the Supreme Court in April, the Government announced that it will use default powers to require key cities to implement Clean Air Zones (CAZs). 

But the CIEH has warned that without draft Directions and with Defra still working on its template for CAZs, promised only for `early 2016`, it is still not clear how much of the detail will be prescribed or whether local authorities will just be instructed to achieve the limit values.

Funding remains another concern and the CIEH’s Principal Policy Officer, Howard Price, said: “As a new burden imposed by the Government, CAZs should be fully-funded.

“But while the Plan states at the beginning that funding will be provided for scoping studies, later-on it says only that they will be ‘supported’, with a suggestion that there will be a bidding process to secure the money.”

A further funding issue for the CIEH is that the Plan is silent on the on-going costs of employing expert people while it says providing the infrastructure and maintaining the new schemes is to be paid-for by charges on non-compliant vehicles which, at the same time, will be capped at the cost of that.

“That in particular makes no sense,” said Howard Price. “The more non-compliant vehicles there are expected, the lower that suggests charges and, of course, their deterrent effect, will have to be. Conversely, the more successful schemes are, the less likely they will cover their costs.”

The CIEH is also disappointed that the Plan does not meet their previous calls to counter the growth in road traffic generally or to reverse the trend in diesel car use. There are also no moves to reverse the growth in Permitted Development Rights, giving councils back more control over planning, and, overall, the CIEH believes local authorities’ jobs are being made harder than they need be.

Howard Price added: “While deciding to apply legislation might help placate the European Commission, whether the new Air Quality Plan will actually bring compliance with NO2 limits and, as required, ‘as soon as possible’ remains open to question.”


Notes to editors 

For enquiries, please contact Steven Fifer on: 020 7827 5922 or email

* The Government’s final Plan ‘Improving air quality in the UK: Tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities’, Defra: 

The CIEH’s position statement on improving local Air Quality: 

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):   

The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved. 

Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. The CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.  

The CIEH is a leading provider of regulated qualifications and operates in over 50 countries. 

For more information visit and follow the CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH


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