William Eichler 15 June 2017

Whitehall’s air quality plans sets ‘over-stretched’ councils up for failure

Whitehall’s air quality plans sets ‘over-stretched’ councils up for failure image

The Government’s air quality plans ‘unfairly’ shifts the burden of tackling air pollution onto ‘over-stretched’ local authorities - and sets them up for failure.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has criticised the Government’s plans to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air, accusing Whitehall of ‘offloading’ their responsibility onto councils.

The Government’s plans, initially published in May after a court ruling found previous approaches were illegal, are designed to reduce the impact of diesel vehicles and accelerate the move to cleaner transport. They involve a series of options including Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

In their draft plans, Whitehall said councils would be expected ‘to develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist.’

In their submission to the Government’s consultation on these plans, published today to coincide with National Clean Air Day, the CIEH warned the Conservatives had ‘failed to recognise poor air quality is a national issue.’

The environmental health organisation, which represents over 7,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors, said the Government was setting councils up to fail because of a lack of clarity or resources.

‘The Government’s proposals are woefully inadequate to tackle air pollution and place far too much responsibility on the shoulders of our over-stretched local authorities,’ said Tony Lewis, head of policy at CIEH.

‘We stand on the cliff-edge of a national public health emergency and these plans are devoid of substantive proposals, timescales for addressing the key challenges, clarity around targets or even availability of resources to support necessary actions.’

CIEH also warned the Government viewed CAZs as a ‘panacea’ to solving air pollution, and noted CAZ trials were taking place in only five English cities and have not been running long enough to demonstrate successful results.

The membership body suggested CAZs were similar to Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), which have been operating across the UK for many years.

Rather than providing a solution to air pollution, CIEH states that AQMAs have demonstrated little success and often lead to problem hotspots being relocated elsewhere.

‘Air pollution does not recognise boundaries. All regions, towns and cities and even rural areas are affected by air pollution, leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and contributing to major illnesses,’ Mr Lewis said.

‘Air pollution, therefore, costs businesses and the health care services billions annually.

‘This is not a political issue. We urgently need the Government to devise a robust plan, which should also include provisions for a new Clean Air Act, incorporating a national solution that is consistent, shares responsibility and ensures better funding – before it’s too late.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Co-ordinators

Buckinghamshire Council
£30,874 - £37,188 per annum
Interested in a career as an EHC Coordinator? Come along to our drop-in event to meet members of the SEND team and find out more about the role! England, Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury
Recuriter: Buckinghamshire Council

Portfolio Analyst

Essex County Council
£38001.0 - £45450 per annum
Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local authorities in the UK, serving a population of 2 million residents, and has a England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duke of Edinburgh Youth Support Worker

Essex County Council
£995 - £1050 per annum
Please note this is a part time contract - annualised hours 106 per year. Therefore the actual salary range is from £995.44 up to £1049.79 per annum. England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Support Worker Mill Dale

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£12,191 - £12,435
You will support and assist adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems and challenging behaviour. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Bi-lingual Support Worker

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£17,410 - £18,845
We are looking for applicants who can speak English and Kurdish or English and Romanian/Hungarian. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine