In mid August the Government closed the consultation on its draft Clean Air Strategy which outlined ambitions to reduce air pollution in the round.

The previous plans were heavily focused on reducing roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations and set out the approach to meet statutory NO2 limits. The new plans focus more on particulates from domestic fuels as well as ammonia emissions from farming than within the automotive sector although there is reference to new standards for brake and tyre particulates.

This may be because the anti-diesel sentiment led in 2017 to an increase in average CO2 emissions from new cars – the first ever rise.

Defra secretary, Michael Gove said during the announcement that, “Government cannot act alone in tackling air quality. Our strategy sets out how we will work with businesses, farmers, industry and households to develop innovative new solutions to reduce emissions. It also highlights how we can all take action and play an important role in cleaning up our air.”

The change of direction has also been supported by the business secretary, Greg Clark who has admitted that diesel vehicles are important to meet more stringent CO2 targets.

Research reports in both this month and last have highlighted further the amount of particulate matter breathed by children in London schools and a link between high levels of air pollution and low levels of intelligence.

The Government has a clear aspiration to be at the forefront of low and zero-emission cars and this is also percolated through devolution to the local level with a focus on Clean Air Zones across UK cities to meet NO2 targets and for clean and inclusive growth through local industrial strategies.

The answers are complex and technical and as the Government responds to the Consultation to further develop its proposals it will be interesting to see which directions it pursues.

New Clean Air Zones will be rolled out in London and Birmingham next year and other cities such as Southampton and Derby (who missed deadlines) will follow along with others.

How can TFA help?

TFA has a depth of experience in both transport, industry and the environment and has directly engaged over clean air both at a national government and a local government level and is well placed to advise on how to create and engage on this important topic.