Low Emission Zones

1.The Government should without any further delay introduce a national framework for Low Emission Zones, with common metrics and a national certification scheme for vehicles meeting particular air quality standards, to facilitate their widespread adoption. (Paragraph 21)

Diesel vehicles and vehicle standards

2.Defra and the Department for Transport should work urgently with the Treasury to establish long-term goals and timescales for a step by step re-balancing of fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty consistent with reducing not just CO2 emissions but also NO2 and particulate matter impacts. (Paragraph 30)

3.The Government should explore regulatory and enforcement options for ensuring that, once fitted, diesel particulate filters are not removed from vehicles, and where filters are fitted standards are enforced through thorough testing and monitoring. Having raised this with the Minister, we welcome his commitment to tackle this matter and expect an early statement on the actions planned. (Paragraph 31)

4.We recognise that the rationale for previous moves to promote diesel–to reduce carbon emissions–was sound at the time. In the light of increasing public health concerns, however, we need to change policy direction. The Government should consider the scope for subsidising diesel vehicle owners to retrofit their engines or a national diesel vehicle scrappage scheme on the basis of a full cost-benefit analysis that reflects the different circumstances, costs and benefits in urban and rural areas. (Paragraph 32)

5.The Government should continue to work with the European Commission to develop Euro VI/6 standards and the vehicle emission tests to reflect realistic driving conditions. It should maintain pressure on the Commission to deliver that testing regime in 2017, as planned. (Paragraph 36)

Ultra low emission vehicles

6.The Office for Low Emmission Vehicles should work with departments, including DECC, to bring a step change in reducing air pollution and carbon emissions. The Government should consider the scope for financial incentives for a range of alternatively fuelled cars, including gas-fuelled cars, while taking care not to reduce the momentum now emerging for expanding electric vehicle usage or to cause doubts about the Government's commitment to the electric vehicle technology. Such financial support, however, should be based on a strategic assessment of the relative benefits of the different options for using limited available funds, mindful for example that financial support might also be used to support local authorities in introducing low emission zones. (Paragraph 40)

Cleaner public transport

7.The Government should identify best practice in managing bus fleet pollution and provide local transport authorities with advice on how this issue can be addressed when putting out bus route tenders for contract. The Government should also put an emphasis on tackling pollutants as well as carbon emissions in its Green Bus Fund and the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund when helping to meet the costs of upgrading vehicles. (Paragraph 47)


8.The Government should issue NPPF guidance which makes clearer the great importance of protecting good air quality including protecting green spaces in development planning. Specifically, the NPPF should make it impossible to build new schools, care homes or health clinics near existing air pollution hotspots, and any redevelopment of such existing buildings should only be approved if they reduce pollution exposure for their users. Building regulations should provide for existing schools sited near pollution hotspots to be fitted with air filtration systems. (Paragraph 60)

9.We welcome the Minister's commitment to ensure that the Strategic Highways Company (transforming the Highways Agency to a company) will have a remit which includes environmental performance. The Government should give it a legal duty to protect air quality and introduce a specific clause to that effect in the Infrastructure Bill. (Paragraph 61)

10.The Government should add an explicit air quality objective to the Airports Commission Appraisal Framework. (Paragraph 63)

Support for local authorities and local air quality monitoring

11.The Government should set out a clear picture of the demarcations within central government and between central and local government on the management of air quality, bringing greater consistency to that relationship. The Government should work with the most polluting cities to identify what, if any, of the powers held by London might be replicated elsewhere to improve air quality. It should explain how far localism should operate in this policy field. The Government should ensure, however, that its desire to reduce red tape will not be allowed to undermine robust air quality monitoring across the country, which must be a responsibility that central government cannot absolve itself from. (Paragraph 74)

12.Clarity about the extent of local government responsibility for air quality would help to present a clearer perspective for Health & Well-being Boards on the priority they need to give to this critical health challenge. Public Health England should engage with the Boards to ensure that they are discharging that responsibility, and raise with Government any evidence that local authority governance arrangements are preventing appropriate action. (Paragraph 75)

Public awareness and active travel

13.The Government should work more closely with the Met Office, BBC and other broadcasters to ensure that high air pollution forecasts are disseminated widely via mainstream media in the same way pollen and UV forecasts are broadcast now, together with advice on what action should be taken. The Government should ensure that local authorities are aware of where to find this information. Schools and care homes should be identified and presented with air pollution advice so that they know what to do during air pollution events. (Paragraph 80)

14.We welcome the Transport Minister's commitment to us for a "new marketing plan" on air quality, which should be introduced as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 85)

15.The Government should ensure that air quality data are widely available to the general public, including drivers, along with advice on measures to reduce air pollution and how they can reduce their own pollution exposure. The Government should encourage active travel such as walking and cycling–the ultimate low emission options. (Paragraph 86)

16.We welcome increasing examples of 'citizen science' and other local projects that raise public awareness of air quality issues, which central and local government should actively support. Local Health & Wellbeing Boards and clinicians should be taking a lead in promoting public awareness and active travel. (Paragraph 87)

A new Air Quality Strategy

17.In the absence now of an independent body responsible for air quality, the time has come for decisive action and we therefore support calls for an independent public inquiry to look at the required urgent action on air pollution. (Paragraph 93)

18.The Government should update its 'Air Quality Strategy' of 2007, clearly spelling out the responsibilities of each Government department and identifying cross-Government actions needed to tackle air pollution. An updated Strategy should set out detailed plans and responsibilities for addressing the 16 air quality zones that are subject to potential EU infraction fines. The Strategy should clearly delineate the respective roles and responsibilities of central and local government. The Government should rationalise air quality funding schemes and provide a clear rationale for what local authority actions will be funded by central government and what by local authorities themselves. This would help bring forward the needed debate about the appropriate extent of localism in this policy area. (Paragraph 94)

EU proposals

19.To demonstrate its commitment to tackling air pollution, and a required new comprehensive Air Quality Strategy, the Government should work with the European Commission and the Council of Ministers to make the proposed new EU air quality directives effective and robust. (Paragraph 98)

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2014
Prepared 16 December 2014