Welsh Government’s ‘Clean Air Plan’ is a huge step forward say Friends of the Earth Cymru
The Welsh Government has outlined plans today to improve the country’s air quality under its Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales.
The government says that poor air quality is the “biggest environmental risk to public health and also has effects on biodiversity and the natural environment.”
In Wales, poor air quality is thought to contribute to as many as 1,400 deaths each year – often having a impact on the most vulnerable, such as the very young or very old, and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
Some of the measures proposed in the Clean Air Plan include: Investment in active travel infrastructure, improving rail services and supporting decarbonisation through a zero tailpipe exhaust emission taxi and bus fleet by 2028.
Investigating measures to support a reduction in personal vehicle use such as road user charging, Clean Air Zones and/or Low Emission Zones.
Implementing an electric vehicle charging strategy and supporting an increase in the proportion of vehicles which are ultra-low emission (ULEV) and promoting a shift to ULEVs for waste collection.
Reviewing the powers local authorities have to tackle emissions from domestic burning and investigating the contribution bonfires and fireworks make to levels of harmful emissions
And increasing air quality monitoring through the development of a new Air Pollution Monitoring Network to protect the public, especially those most vulnerable, from air pollution.
Friends of the Earth Cymru, a member of Healthy Air Cymru coalition, welcomed the new plans.
Haf Elgar, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru and Vice-chair of Healthy Air Cymru, said:
“The Clean Air Plan for Wales is a great plan but if it is to deliver the changes we want to see, action is needed from all public bodies and sectors of the economy, and, indeed from all of us, to make it happen, so that everyone in Wales can breathe clean air.”
Joseph Carter, Chair of Healthy Air Cymru, called the plan ‘a huge step forward’ but urged the Welsh Government to do more for local communities to ensure they have the help they need.
He said: “The Clean Air Plan for Wales is a huge step forward in our fight to clean up our air and create a cleaner, greener and healthier Wales for everyone.
We welcome the Welsh Government’s aim to deliver a transformative Clean Air Act for Wales that will reduce PM2.5 and NO2 levels to below World Health Organization limits and ensure everyone in Wales can breathe cleaner air from healthier lungs and with healthier hearts.
We’re enthusiastic about the 20mph speed limit, which will become standard in most urban settings in Wales – this will help reduce air pollution and encourage healthier and more active lifestyles, making it safer for people to walk and cycle.
But the Welsh Government must go further to help local communities, if we want to see the huge increase in active travel needed that will make alternatives to the car more viable.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:
“I am very pleased to announce the launch of our Clean Air Plan, which sets out how we will look to improve air quality across Wales, and deal with those problems caused by air pollution, during the next 10 years.
The aims outlined in the Plan are there to safeguard the most vulnerable, but improving our air quality nationwide will be to the benefit of everyone in Wales, and it’s something we should all want and strive for. But in order to achieve that, we have to take action now.
Much of that work is already underway – despite the recent pandemic, we have been able to support local authorities in commencing work on schemes to improve air quality across Wales, with the changes to Castle Street being one example.
We know that as people across Wales have responded to those restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they have changed how they do things and taken on new habits – including decreasing their reliance on cars, and doing more in their local areas, rather than feeling the need to travel long distances.”
The plan also focuses on five sites on the Welsh Government Managed Road Network including the A494 through Deeside and the A483 Wrexham.
They sections of road have had new speed limit imposed in a bid to order to reduce concentrations of NO2.
The Welsh Government says that monitoring data published in October 2019 and March 202049 indicates NO2 levels have reduced following implementation of the 50mph speed limits on an initial trial basis in June 2018.
Read the Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2020-08/clean-air-plan-for-wales-healthy-air-healthy-wales.pdf
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