Welsh Government Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn has announced a series of measures aimed at tackling air pollution in Wales, including the development of a clean air zone framework for the country.
The minister outlined the measures at a plenary session in the Senedd in Cardiff yesterday (5 December) following questioning by Assembly Members.
Alongside the CAZ framework, which will aim to “ensure consistent and effective implementation of Clean Air Zones by Welsh local authorities” the Welsh Government is also proposing to bring about improvements in air quality reporting by councils.
These measures will be supported by the establishment of a National Air Quality Assessment and Monitoring Centre for Wales, to advise local and national government on the extent of poor air quality and the effectiveness of current and future actions.
“This will provide a continuous focus on achieving compliance with legal limits in specific hotspots whilst reducing exposure to pollution more widely,” the Welsh Government has claimed.
The Welsh Government’s Air Quality in Wales website will also be re-launched with improved air quality forecasting capability, new sections for schools and health advice.
Commenting on the measures, the minister has said: “Air quality in Wales is much cleaner than in previous decades. We must take further action now, though, because our understanding of the health effects of air pollution has greatly increased. It remains the biggest environmental risk to public health.
“We must tackle poor air quality from all possible angles.
“The actions that I have set out today demonstrate our determination for Wales to be a leader in delivering innovative and effective solutions to tackle air pollution, achieving clean air for all.
The Minister also called on the UK government to back up its commitment of phasing out new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 with a “concrete set of milestones to be achieved ahead of that date”.
She said: “This is a necessary and positive step, but 2040 is a long way off. I would, therefore, welcome Assembly Members’ support in calling on the UK Government to work closely with us to develop clear timescales for a progressive transition to zero emission road transport”.
The Welsh Government has been named among the defendants alongside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a case brought by the environmental law firm ClientEarth over plans to address air pollution in the UK (see airqualitynews.com story).
ClientEarth has claimed that the government’s air quality plan, published in July, fails to require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible.