It is now widely recognised that air pollution causes serious impacts upon human health and we are proposing a series of measures in Derby to address air quality issues. The council has been legally mandated by the government to develop an ‘action plan’ to achieve compliance with targets for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. The government requires Derby to submit a business case by 15th September 2018, which will set out exactly what we plan to do to achieve emissions compliance within the shortest possible time.
In February 2014, the European Commission started infraction proceedings against the UK for breaching NO2 limit values in 16 of its 43 zones. The Supreme Court also ordered the government to take urgent action in 2015, 2016 and again in 2017.
In December 2015, Defra released the National Air Quality Plan which outlines the requirement for the implementation of Clean Air Zones in five cities across the UK, including Derby. In July 2017, Defra published a revised national plan setting out how the government intends to meet the requirements of the European Air Quality Directive for NO2, in the shortest possible time. This plan identifies Derby as one of a number of local authorities that contain areas experiencing high levels of NO2, linked mainly to traffic-related air pollution. The other cities identified in the first phase in 2015 were Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, although 23 local authorities have now been identified and required to work on similar plans, with more expected to be added to the list later this year.
The Government’s National Plan published in July 2017 requires Derby City Council to undertake assessments aimed to design air quality measures which will ensure compliance with the NO2 limit values within the shortest possible time. This includes the potential for the introduction of charging Clean Air Zones, unless we are able to design other measures which can achieve the same reductions.
Under the requirements of the national plan, we are required to develop a wide range of measures that will ‘deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses’. We need to reduce the level of NO2 in the air to a maximum of 40µg/m3 as soon as possible. Once that target is reached we want to continue to lower the amount of NO2 in the air as far as we can.
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The Joint Air Quality Unit (DEFRA and DfT) have prepared an overview document on improving air quality in the UK which is available to download (Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.)