Defra launches new Clean Air Strategy

Defra has launched its draft clean air strategy, which outlines plans for banning inefficient stoves and polluting fuels, as well as putting more restrictions on Smoke Control Areas.

The strategy sets out plans for the government to meet targets to reduce harmful air pollutants. This includes particulate matter produced from stoves, which it pledges to cut by 30% by 2020, and 46% by 2030.

It also proposes to tackle emissions from agriculture, further action on polluting non-road mobile machinery and air pollution from aviation and shipping.

The 104-page report includes a series of proposals to be taken by Defra, some of which are already in the public domain as well some news policy proposals.

The key points include:

  • Defra will legislate to prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels, by introducing a 2% sulphur limit for the sale of all solid domestic fuels and ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.
  • Legislation on ‘dark smoke’ from chimneys and underused provisions on Smoke Control Areas will be updated to give ‘more flexible, proportionate’ enforcement powers to local government.
  • New clean air legislation will enable the Transport Secretary to compel manufacturers to recall vehicles and machinery for any failures in their emissions control system, and make tampering with an emissions control system a legal offence.
  • It will also create a new statutory framework for Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to simplify current overlapping frameworks of CAZ, AQMA and Smoke Control Areas to create a single approach covering all sources of air pollution.
  • The UK government will work in partnership with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to develop a detailed National Air Pollution Control Programme as required under the National Emissions Ceilings Directive for publication in 2019.
  • Government will ‘increase transparency’ by bringing local and national monitoring data together into a single accessible portal for information on air quality monitoring and modelling, catalysing public engagement through citizen science.
  • Government will provide a personal air quality messaging system to inform the public, particularly those who are vulnerable to air pollution, about the air quality forecast, providing ‘clearer information’ on air pollution episodes and accessible health advice.
  • Later this year Defra will provide guidance for local authorities explaining how cumulative impacts of nitrogen deposition on natural habitats should be mitigated and assessed through the planning system.

A Defra spokesperson said: “New legislation will create a stronger and more coherent framework for action to tackle air pollution. This will be underpinned by new England-wide powers to control major sources of air pollution, in line with the risk they pose to public health and the environment, plus new local powers to take action in areas with an air pollution problem.”


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