To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking in response to the findings of the World Health Organisation's report, entitled WHO Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database 2016, on levels of safe air quality being exceeded at (a) Port Talbot, (b) Stanford-le-Hope, (c) Glasgow, (d) London, (e) Scunthorpe, (f) Leeds, (g) Eastbourne, (h) Nottingham, (i) Southampton and (j) Oxford.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) 2016 update of its Urban Ambient Air Pollution database found 10 areas in the UK fail to meet WHO standards on particulate matter (PM): Port Talbot, Stanford-le-Hope, Glasgow, London, Scunthorpe, Leeds, Eastbourne, Nottingham, Southampton and Oxford.
Latest compliance data show that the UK is meeting the EU daily and annual mean limits for PM concentrations. We continue to monitor compliance with PM limits and work in partnership with local authorities in these areas and across the UK to explore options to reduce PM concentrations further.
Local authorities have a crucial role to play in improving air quality in their areas. Under the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) system, local authorities are required to review and assess air quality in their areas and to designate Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and put in place Air Quality Action Plans (AQAP) to address air pollution issues where national air quality objectives are not being met. The LAQM system encourages local authorities to focus on local hotspots and to deploy resources and actions quickly to achieve cleaner air in their area.
There are currently 25 AQMAs declared in the Greater London area for PM exceedances. Both Glasgow and Scunthorpe have one AQMA each declared for PM exceedances. All these AQMAs were declared before 2011 and all are still in place, with relevant AQAPs to address the issue. There are currently no PM related AQMAs in Port Talbot, Stanford-le-Hope, Leeds, Eastbourne, Nottingham, Southampton and Oxford.
The Government’s ambition is for the UK to have the best natural environment anywhere. Clean air is an essential part of that ambition. In December last year, the Government published the national air quality plan for reducing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations through a new programme of Clean Air Zones in five cities in England, including Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, as well as Birmingham and Derby along with the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London. The plan combines targeted local and national measures and continued investment in clean technologies. These measures will also reduce PM concentrations.
The Mayor of London is responsible for air quality standards in London. The Mayor provides the framework and guidance which London boroughs use to review and improve air quality within their areas. The new Mayor recently set out his plans to improve air quality in London, and on 5 July launched a formal policy consultation on a package of measures to tackle air pollution in London.
In the UK, air quality is devolved and Defra works in close partnership with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure the UK remains compliant with EU air quality standards.