Industrial air pollution

Local authorities get funding boost to tackle air quality

Funding will help local authorities develop and implement measures to protect public health and the environment
23 February 2023 , Kerry Taylor-Smith

Initiatives will range from Air Quality Officers to green transport provision, but LGA says single pot of funding with long term certainty would be more effective than grants

The government’s Air Quality Grant has awarded £10.7 million to over 40 projects across England designed to protect public health and the environment and improve air quality.

The grant, which helps local authorities develop and employ measures to benefit their communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health, has awarded £53 million to almost 500 projects since 2010.

“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,” said Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister.

Several education programmes will receive funding, including a long-term campaign aimed at schools and pollution hotspots in residential areas in Tyneside, and an Air Quality Officer to visit schools in Cornwall.

“We are delighted to have secured this funding to appoint an Air Quality School Officer so we can continue working with young people and look at how we can all take steps to improve air quality in our towns and villages,” said Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change at Cornwall Council.

Green transport schemes include a £170,000 e-cargo bike library to help businesses in Norwich city centre lower their emissions. The two-year pilot will loan 10 electrically assisted bicycles, tricycles or quadricycles to small businesses to carry cargo and deliver packages to homes and businesses. If used five days a week, they could cut the equivalent of 10 vans’ worth of nitrogen dioxide and carbon emissions weekly.

Blaby District Council in Leicestershire will receive £573,701 to electrify a diesel refuse collection vehicle and purchase an electric road sweeper, while Westminster City Council will spend £1 million on a river freight scheme as a green alternative to more polluting vehicles.

“What is really needed is for councils to be able to access a single pot of funding, with long-term certainty, where they can decide how to prioritise investment.”

“Tackling poor air quality is a priority for councils,” said Councillor David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA). “For their part councils are doing what they can to address this issue, for example through transport measures. Whilst grants are helpful, what is really needed is for councils to be able to access a single pot of funding, with long-term certainty, where they can decide, with local communities, how to prioritise investment to improve air quality and reduce other harmful emissions.”

The government is aiming to cut air pollution via the Environment Act and the Environmental Improvement Plan, both of which aim to reduce levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most harmful pollutant to human health.

"Research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has found air pollution can increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, with up to 11,000 heart and circulatory disease deaths attributable to air pollution in the UK every year,” said John Maingay, Director of Policy and Influencing at the BHF. “This additional local authority funding is a welcome step in the right direction, but central government must also continue to take ambitious action to tackle toxic air to protect everyone's health."


CIEH seeks air quality/environmental protection expert groups

CIEH, alongside one of our members specialising in environmental protection, are seeking to establish a national directory of environmental protection and air quality expert groups. The project is spearheaded by Tim Glews, an independent Environmental Protection and Air Quality Consultant.

The directory will support CIEH in our capacity as a key stakeholder to the UK BAT Advisory Group, which is inputting into proposals for a new UK BAT regime. The initiative can also act as a hub for information exchange for groups across the UK. 

We are seeking contact details of air quality/environmental protection expert groups, particularly in the following areas:

• London 

• East Anglia

• Kent

• Cornwall & Devon

• The North East

If you know of any local authority expert groups focusing on air quality or environmental protection within these regions, please get in touch with Ciaran Donaghy, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Executive at CIEH ([email protected]), or Tim Glews ([email protected]).


Image credit: Shutterstock

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