DEFRA Offers Innovative Councils Air Quality Grants

England 27/2/2013

Air quality has improved in the UK, but there are still some areas for concern, with extra funds now being made available to tackle these issues.

Over the last two years, DEFRA figures show the overall quality of air in the UK has improved significantly, although more recently levels of improvement have slowed slightly. The levelling off has only really been experienced for certain pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen. DEFRA does not feel that a slowdown of improvements will result in a reversal of progress made in the past 15 years. They are however concerned there are still areas where air quality is below the necessary standard.

Most of the areas for concern are small towns and cities with the majority of localised pollution problems caused by traffic flow. Pollution from traffic sources can be tackled via changing road layouts or timing of traffic lights to alter the flow of traffic through an affected area. DEFRA realise that many of the affected roads are local roads, which remain the responsibility of local councils meaning the solution to these air pollution problems often lies with local authorities. Most local councils have the experience and skills to address the issues but they don’t have access to the necessary funds.

Air Quality Assessments are required to quantify the problem effectively and to measure the impact of changes. Identification and resolution requires financial input, as does the changing of road layouts or adjusting the timing of traffic lights. In many cases, a lack of funding stops these local pollution black spots from being tackled. DEFRA’s new scheme aims to solve this problem by providing local authorities with grants of up to £2 million to tackle local pollution.

Improving air quality is a long-term target for the government

The government has said they want to continue to improve air quality and deal with air quality black spots, so ongoing funding will have to be provided to make this possible. This funding and a renewed focus on air quality is also welcome news for companies like REC Ltd, who provide a range of environmental assessment and monitoring services.

 

About Sharon