Graphic with article title reads: Consultation on air quality strategy will leave local government gasping for breath.
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UK100's Interim Chief Executive, Jason Torrance, responds to the Government’s new air quality strategy, and the associated 10-day consultation.

Responding to the Government’s new air quality strategy, and the associated 10-day consultation, UK100's Interim Chief Executive, Jason Torrance, says:

"After waiting so long for the strategy, it is incredible that the Government is giving local authorities, the public and other stakeholders just ten days to respond. Action on one of the greatest environmental and public health threats of our time is urgent, but it needs to be taken with public consent and in collaboration with local leaders to be credible and effective.”

Jason continues: “It’s unacceptable that local leaders have been left gasping for breath as they try to respond to a strategy conferring huge new responsibilities on local authorities during a pre-election period that restricts how they can respond. 

“The first thing Ministers must do is extend the consultation period — and do so beyond the local elections."

On the measures outlined in the strategy, Jason adds:

"The strategy itself is flimsy, its predecessor was almost ten times as long, and it lacks the key details our members need to determine how successful it will be in practice, considering its putting the responsibility for addressing the government’s air quality failings squarely on their shoulders.”

“However,” Jason continues: “the strategy does include a positive recognition of the importance of ensuring Clean Air and Net Zero action is aligned at the local level, something UK100 has highlighted as being vital for learning the lessons of Dieselgate.”

He adds: ”There is also a necessary focus on wood burners and smoke control zones — wood burning is now the single biggest source of the most dangerous particulate matter pollution in Britain.”

Jason concludes: “However, the emphasis on local authority responsibilities is not aligned with necessary clear guidance or support that will allow local leaders to actually act — particularly when it comes to funding.”

“The air quality grant scheme mentioned in the strategy, for example, has only delivered £53 million of funding to local authorities in 13 years. Meanwhile, research has shown since just 2019, local authorities have spent anywhere between £27 million and £63 million on just preparing bids for competitive funding pots like the air quality grant scheme."