Air Pollution: Local Authority Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

What assessment the Government have made of the adequacy of funding allocated to support local authority implementation of air pollution reduction plans.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government have invested £3.5 billion in improving air quality and £495 million is specifically set aside for councils where they are in breach of nitrogen dioxide limits. We will continue to support councils in a variety of ways to improve air quality.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Residents and businesses want to play their part in Greater Manchester’s plans to reduce air pollution, but unless the Government will properly support plans for vehicle upgrades and for retrofitting, many businesses will not be able to afford to do so. When will the Government give the clarity and the assurances on funding that businesses in Greater Manchester need?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I have had to send back the plan to the Mayor of Greater Manchester because it is not ambitious enough in making changes in Manchester as quickly as possible to improve air quality for the residents there.

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Conservative, Putney

Local authorities will not be able to fix the massive air pollution that is caused by a third runway expansion at Heathrow. The new Secretary of State and I both voted against that plan, and of course the new Prime Minister is a long-standing opponent. But pollution goes far wider than air pollution—it is also noise pollution—and it is in conflict with our law on net zero carbon emissions by 2050 that this House passed unanimously. Will the new Secretary of State now insist that this project is put on hold and that a review of it is undertaken before any further work is done?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

It is the absolute priority for the people who are developing the third runway to come forward with a plan that meets environmental targets in law. If they do not, they will not get the consent to make it happen. However, I am highly confident that the operators of Heathrow airport will be able to devise such a plan.