The Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced it will consult on a revised Air Quality Plan by 24 April 2017 and publish a final plan by 31 July 2017.
And, the plan will include all 38 zones in the UK areas with highest pollution levels, as opposed to the five Clean Air Zones set out in the original plan.
The government was ordered to quash its original Air Quality Plan for the second time in 18 months in a High Court case brought by environmental law firm ClientEarth last month (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Answering a written question to Parliament yesterday (6 December), Defra under-secretary Lord Gardiner of Kimble provided some insight into the Government’s timetable for drawing up a new Air Quality Plan.
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, Labour shadow spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had asked the government if, following the ClientEarth case ordering the government to draw up an improved air quality plan, it “will include in the new plan all 37 zones within the UK that have illegal levels of air pollution, instead of the eight that were previously earmarked.”
Noting that “Improving air quality is a priority for this government and we are determined to cut harmful emissions,” Lord Gardiner replied that the government is considering its next steps “in light of both the High Court judgment and recent updates in data on emissions from diesel vehicles,” and will be setting out further measures next year.
He added: “Our plans, which include national and local measures for all 38 zones and Clean Air Zones in the areas of greatest challenge, have always followed the best available evidence and we have always been clear that we are ready to update them if necessary.
“We can now confirm a timetable for updating our plans next year and further improving the nation’s air quality. We will consult on a revised air quality plan by 24 April 2017 and publish a final plan by 31 July 2017.”