Fall in Defra air quality spending continues

Defra spending directly earmarked for improving UK air quality continued to fall in 2014/15 with a £500,000 cut, data from the Department shows.

Defra's Nobel House headquarters in London

Defra’s Nobel House headquarters in London

A spokesman for Defra confirmed that the Department’s evidence spending on air quality totalled £9.958m in 2013/14, compared to £9.474m last year – a drop of almost £500,000.

However, asked by AirQualityNews.com yesterday (December 14) for the evidence spending figure for 2015/16, the spokesman said: “We don’t have this figure as yet.”

Evidence expenditure includes money spent on air quality monitoring as well as research work to gather evidence and develop methodologies for assessing and improving air quality, according to Defra.

Meanwhile, the total amount of money made available through Defra’s Air Quality Grant Programme – which supports actions by local authorities to improve local air quality – had already been halved to £500,000 for 2015/16.

This compares to the £1m made available for local projects during both 2013/14 and 2014/15, for which the deadline for English council’s to apply was October 22 2015.

Transport spending

Labour’s shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy raised the issue of Defra air quality funding with the Department last month (November 10), querying what estimate had been made “of the funding needed until 2020 to bring air pollution levels to within legal limits”.

And, in a written response to Ms McCarthy on November 16, Defra air quality minister Rory Stewart said the government had in fact committed more than £2 billion since 2011 in measures to improve air quality.

He explained: “As road transport is the dominant source of pollution most of the funding has been allocated from the Department for Transport. Defra’s contribution has taken the form of payments made under the Air Quality Grant Scheme to support local authority action on air pollution.”

Mr Stewart added that future Defra air quality funding “would depend on the outcome” of the spending review, which subsequently saw plans announced to ‘streamline’ the Department with day-to-day spending on the environment cut by 15% (see AirQualityNews.com story).

Defra air quality spending 2010-2016

Financial year Evidence Air Quality Grant
2010-11 £10,964,000 £2,361,000
2011-12 £10,947,000 £3,078,745
2012-13 £10,131,000 £3,100,000
2013-14 £9,958,000 £1,000,000
2014-15 £9,474,000 £1,000,000
2015-16 (allocated) TBC £500,000

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