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Tackling local air quality breaches

The UK has air quality targets which specify legal limits of major pollutants at a local and a national level. While emissions of most air pollutants have been falling in recent decades, air quality continues to cause significant health, economic and environmental risks, and the UK is not currently meeting its statutory obligations for local concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Government aims to tackle NO2 breaches through a programme of measures led by Local Authorities and by National Highways. Measures include bus retrofit schemes and speed restrictions, and in some areas, Clean Air Zones where vehicle owners are required to pay a charge if their vehicle does not meet a certain emissions standard.  This programme forms part of the Government Major Projects Portfolio, with funding and support from a Joint Air Quality Unit run by the Department for Transport and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

This study will examine government’s approach to clean air and how effectively it is tackling breaches of local air quality limits through its NO2 programme. It will consider:

  • The extent to which government has a set of policies and programmes that it expects will achieve its objectives for clean air;
  • Whether government’s programme to tackle breaches of local air quality limits is well set up;
  • The progress government has made in delivering this programme and what has been spent, and
  • How government is managing ongoing risks to tackling local breaches of air quality.