City leaders representing 20 million people sign up to world’s most ambitious clean air plan

On Valentine’s Day 2019, UK100 and the Mayor of London brought together a cross party group of mayors and council leaders from across England to agree the world’s most ambitious clean air plan.

With representatives from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Bristol, the #LoveCleanAir summit, which was supported by Unicef UK, hammered out an agreement that would include the world’s toughest air pollution targets alongside new powers and resources to reduce pollution from vehicles, agriculture and industry.

Attendees at the National Clean Air Summit who collectively represented over 20 million people, discussed their concerns directly with the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, the Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock and the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

Asked about the plans, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, said he hoped to be able to agree to the plan “soon” and that “we’re going to make sure that the Treasury hears loud and clear the united chorus that we need to do even more to make sure that our air is healthy and clean.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our country’s filthy air is a national disgrace that shortens lives, damages our lungs, and severely impacts our NHS. City leaders across the country are united in raising the alarm about the dangers posed by poor air quality. I know Michael Gove and Matt Hancock both share my commitment to clean up our filthy air and protect the health of future generations – but for this to happen they must recognise the scale of this issue, dip in their pockets and urgently match the ambition of our city leaders.”


In addition, the summit saw calls for a new national scrappage scheme worth £1.5bn to remove the most polluting cars, vans and buses from our roads. [link to story 2] and an announcement from the Mayor of London that he would double the number of vehicles eligible for the scrappage scheme in London before the introduction of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in April 2019.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We urgently need government to guarantee the right level of powers and funding to help us tackle the scale of the problem without damaging our local economies. That includes adequate funding so we can help businesses make the change to cleaner vehicles. Without this support we won’t be able to do what’s required to clean up our air, keep our region an attractive, sustainable and healthy place to live and work and – ultimately – save lives.”
Participants also pressed ministers to set up an independent clean air watchdog with the powers and resources to hold national Government to account.

School children from Henry Maynard Primary in Walthamstow joined the start of the summit to explain how polluted air affects them and why they #LoveCleanAir.


Polly Billington, director of UK100, added: “Air pollution is a national health crisis. Government should work in partnership with local leaders by providing new powers and adequate funding: that will make a real difference to drive urgent and effective action. Many councils and mayors are acting, but an extra £1.5bn is needed to support people and businesses to switch from older polluting vehicles into low emission transport, cycling and walking so we can all love clean air. We also a need a new clean air law including tougher, legally binding WHO air pollution limits and an independent watchdog that will hold Government to account.”


The city leaders and environmental groups who attended the #LoveCleanAir summit at Tate Modern called for the Government’s proposed Environment Bill to include the following provisions:

  • Adopt World Health Organisation recommended air pollution limits as legally binding targets to be achieved by 2030to guarantee the highest health standards that are supported by improved monitoring that assesses air quality and the powers to enforce.


  • Create an independent watchdog that is adequately funded and empowered to hold the Government to account, including through legal action and the levelling of fines, and review and be able to require action needed to reduce air pollution from Government and other public bodies such as Highways England.


  • Grant Local Authorities the powers they need, with necessary resources, to deliver zero emission transport networks.


  • Enable the setting and enforcement of ambitious standards for local air quality, including for solid fuel stoves. Including powers for regional authorities to control emissions from other fixed sources, such as boilers and combined heat and power sources as well as set energy efficiency standards including for existing buildings.


  • Establish adequately resourced local powers to set and enforce emission zones for Non-Road Mobile Machinery such as construction, industry and agricultural equipment.


  • Require co-ordinated action from private and public bodies to improve air quality, such as: ports, Highways England, Network Rail, Homes England, Environment Agency and Directors of Public Health, and provide necessary resource to enable activity


List of the signatories:

  • Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region
  • Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
  • Councillor Ian Ward, Leader, Birmingham City Council
  • Councillor James Lewis, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council
  • Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool City Council
  • Cllr Adam Paynter Leader, Cornwall County Council
  • Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health, Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • Cllr Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol
  • Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor, Leicester City Council
  • Cllr Toby Neal, Cabinet Member – Community Protection, Nottingham City Council
  • Cllr Christopher Hammond, Leader, Southampton City Council
  • Cllr Susan Brown, Leader, Oxford City Council
  • Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader, Newcastle City Council
  • Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader, Cambridge City Council
  • Cllr Tim Warren, Leader, Bath and North East Somerset Council

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