Defra has confirmed that a public consultation will be held “later this yearâ€? on the revised air quality plans so that the UK can be as compliant as soon as possible with the EU’s NO2 limits.
And, the preparation of the plans for improved air quality have been highlighted today (30 June) by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss.
Speaking at an event in London’s technology district in Shoreditch, the Secretary of State said: “Planting more trees and making our air cleaner are vital in themselves and are at the heart of our plans for improving the environment, but they are also crucial to today’s economy.â€?
Ms Truss was speaking at an event hosted at the Unruly web business where she emphasised the important role of data in helping plan for a better natural environment.
She said: “Over the next year we will be making 8,000 datasets publicly available, in the biggest data giveaway that Britain has ever seen. Tech City people, developers, entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, NGOs, anyone with a great idea, will have full and open access.â€?
The Secretary of State continued: “This has the potential to bring billions of pounds to our economy. And think what we can do with it. Wine lovers will be able to sip English bubbly made from the sweetest grapes because growers have found the best soil and slopes; canoeists will be able to check an app to see how fast their local river is flowing.
“Think also of the environmental improvements we can secure. I am proud that in our manifesto we made a commitment to protect sensitive marine areas around Britain and our overseas territories. In the Pitcairn Islands we will create the world’s biggest maritime nature reserve, protecting some of the planet’s most important species.â€?
And, the Secretary of State enthused about the link between data and improving the environment. She commented: “And as we draw up plans for improving the natural environment, including our air and water quality, think of the opportunity that data will bring—by sharing it with organisations like the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, we will enable them to monitor the health of our most precious places, and enthuse people, especially children, about the wonders of nature.â€?
On the international side, Ms Truss noted: “A healthy natural environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand in today’s world. It is no accident that nature is improving most quickly in some of the most prosperous countries like Switzerland. And that as countries become wealthier, like China, they seek out the latest environmental innovations to prevent smog and clean up water supplies.
For businesses, cutting waste and pollution means cutting costs. And by pinpointing application of pesticides and fertilisers, farmers spend less on chemicals and put less of them into the ground and into the air.