Government's air quality plans once again shifts burden onto local authorities, says CIEH

Publication Date: 26th July 2017

Subject: Environmental protection

Following the release of the Government’s air quality plans, Tony Lewis, CIEH’s Head of Policy, said:  

“Once again local authorities are being asked to play a significant role in improving air quality. But this unfairly shifts the burden from central Government, £250m to sort out the problem is a drop in the ocean and local authorities are only being given eight months to submit their plans, which is simply not enough time. 

“Local authorities are where the expertise lie to tackle air pollution. Whilst relying on councils to take the lead could possibly lead to positive results at the local level, there is the risk that this will result in significant regional inconsistencies when considered on the national stage. 

“We’re staring into the jaws of a public health emergency. As we’ve said before, the Government should not shy away from the challenge and prioritise a new Clean Air Act, incorporating a national solution that is consistent, shares responsibility and ensures better funding – before it’s too late.” 


Summary of CIEH’s key points on air quality and the latest plans 

  • Governments record on air quality is poor and they have been forced by the courts to produce plans to address the issue, all of which have been lacklustre
  • The Government’s plans consistently overlook particulate matter as the single biggest contributor to premature deaths and ill-health, placing too much emphasis on reducing NO2 emissions
  • The Government’s cost/benefit analysis fails to consider the burden on the NHS and the wider health implications on people and local communities, concentrating solely on business impacts
  • If we go by current rates, by 2040 we could be looking at 920,000 premature deaths – this is unacceptable
  • Banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 is far too late. The Government needs to remove these polluting vehicles from the road as soon as possible given that they are the major contributor to poor air quality.
  • Government is committed only to ‘consider’ introducing a targeted scrappage scheme. This is unacceptable as is the Government’s commitment to any scrappage scheme only focussing on those with low incomes and who live in the vicinity of a CAZ
  • The plans for a new automated and electric vehicles bill places the onus on retailers to install charging points for electric vehicles, without the necessary incentives to do so. We need serious investment to implement a robust infrastructure to support the mass use of electric vehicles
  • Need to establish clear standards on what ‘retrofitting’ constitutes and the emissions standards it will need to meet.

Notes to editors  

For CIEH enquiries, please contact Steven Fifer on: 020 7827 5922 or email 

Link to Government’s Air Quality plans:   

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):    

CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 7,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved.  

Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.   

For more information visit and follow CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH 

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