CIEH responds to IPPR report and calls for greater support for local authorities to tackle air pollution

10 November 2023, Ciaran Donaghy

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has today called on the central government to take decisive action by implementing a comprehensive and funded national strategy to improve air quality across the United Kingdom.

This call to action is in response to the compelling findings from the Institute for Public Policy Research's (IPPR) recent report, "Unlocking Local Action on Clean Air" which reveals the significant challenges that local authorities face amid insufficient funding and the absence of a coherent strategy from the UK government.

The report underscores the vital importance of air quality, linking it directly to public health and economic outcomes. It suggests that the health impacts of air pollution are not just a significant burden on individuals and communities but also on the economic health of the nation. CIEH endorses the report’s findings, emphasising that a cleaner environment is integral to the vision of a healthier and more prosperous society.

CIEH stresses that environmental health professionals have long been at the frontline in the battle against air pollution but are constrained by the lack of a strategic framework and resources necessary to enact impactful change. CIEH also highlights the urgent need for the central government to step up and provide a strategic direction that aligns with the World Health Organisation's air quality guidelines, and to equip local authorities with the tools and funding required to execute effective air quality interventions.

As the report points out, meaningful progress requires more than just isolated efforts by local governments; it necessitates a collaborative, nationwide approach backed by substantial investment and clear policy directives. CIEH supports a shift towards long-term, sustainable funding models that move away from the competitive grant systems, which often leave local authorities competing over scarce resources.

In light of the IPPR report's findings, CIEH reinforces its commitment to fostering safer, cleaner, and healthier environments for all, asserting that every pound spent on improving air quality can save many more in healthcare costs, while also unlocking economic gains through enhanced workforce productivity and lower disease burden.

Louise Hosking, Executive Director of Environmental Health at CIEH said:

"The evidence is clear: investing in air quality improvements is a win-win for public health and the economy.

The IPPR report reiterates the economic advantages of such investments, which include not only a healthier population but also financial savings in healthcare and gains in productivity. It's imperative that the government recognises the true value of clean air and provides local authorities with the support and funding needed to make meaningful changes. Our vision is to create environments that are not just safe and clean but also contribute to the prosperity and well-being of everyone in the UK."

We are calling for immediate and coordinated action from policymakers at all levels of government to embrace the report's recommendations and to engage with environmental health professionals to translate them into tangible improvements in air quality across the nation.”

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