Consultation response: Improving air quality – national plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities

The UK government, the Scottish government, the Welsh government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland have published a revised plan to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide.

The Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) response to this consultation calls on the government to ensure that the final air quality plan includes a clear mandate requiring more UK cities to implement clean air zones. Including more cities than the five targeted in the draft clean air zone framework in the revised plan is important. This will allow the government to signal a more ambitious approach in support of local interventions.

Summary

The RCP recommends that the final air quality plan must include the following:

  • A clear mandate for more clean air zones, in particular the 27 mentioned in the technical report.
  • A recommendation for charging zones to local authorities as a cost-effective measure that will protect and promote health from the joint challenges of climate change and air pollution. 
  • Adequate funding for all local authorities projected to breach air quality limits.
  • Prioritise investments in public transport, and active travel, such as walking and cycling strategies which enable people to avoid or reduce the use of private vehicles in favour of more efficient and healthier transport modes.
  • Ensure that a diesel scrappage scheme should be available to all individuals and businesses
  • The most polluting vehicles and public service vehicles should be prioritised for government-funded retrofit schemes.
  • A national public health awareness campaign and local initiatives targeting the most polluted communities should be a priority.
  • Measures to protect the most vulnerable groups and include the immediate health and societal benefits in its impact assessment.

Contact

For more information please contact Methela Haque, RCP public affairs adviser: methela.haque@rcplondon.ac.uk.