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Air Pollution

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of Sara Britcliffe Sara Britcliffe Conservative, Hyndburn

What steps his Department is taking to tackle the effect of air pollution.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Our clean air strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce air pollution from a wide range of sources. We have also put in place a £3.8 billion plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. Our Environment Bill makes a clear commitment to set a legally binding target to reduce fine particulate matter and enables local authorities to take more effective action to tackle air pollution in these areas.

Photo of Sara Britcliffe Sara Britcliffe Conservative, Hyndburn

Hyndburn has the highest levels of air pollutants in Lancashire and double the county’s average level of nitrogen dioxide. What work is being done with local councils such as mine to tackle that?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank my hon. Friend for her question; I see that she is already standing up for her constituency. Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010. Emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 33% and are at their lowest level since records began, but that is not to say that there is not a great deal more to do. In Hyndburn, nitrogen dioxide concentrations around roads are actually within the statutory air quality limit, though local authorities are empowered to address local air quality concerns within their community. We have put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and deliver cleaner transport, and last year we published our world-leading clean air strategy, which focuses on broader emissions beyond road transport and aims to cut air pollution and save lives. That strategy includes new and ambitious goals, legislation, investment and policies to clean up our air.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Will the Minister join me in welcoming the more stringent air pollution reduction targets that the Scottish Government have agreed in legislation, and does she agree that the UK Government should match those targets in their Environment Bill?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, but actually our clean air strategy has been described by the World Health Organisation as

“an example for the rest of the world to follow”.

With our £3.8 billion commitment, we are definitely leading the way.