Resources minister ThÃ©rÃ¨se Coffey has hinted that tackling air pollution will be a key topic in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairsâ€™ (Defra) 25 Year Environment Plan Framework.
An initial version of the 25 Year Environment Plan Framework is expected to be published next month and will seek to provide a long term strategy that will act as a â€˜comprehensiveâ€™ plan for the environment.
And, in a written response to a parliamentary question last week Dr Coffey claimed that the UK is committed to improving air quality levels and will continue to work on all levels to do so – the Framework being â€œa clear message on our world-leading ambition.â€
The ministerâ€™s statement came in response to a written question from Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Hall Green, who questioned the governmentâ€™s plans â€œto put mechanisms in place to maintain the UK’s air quality targets after the UK leaves the EU.â€
Dr Coffey said: â€œThe UK has a long commitment to improving the environment even before the EU; for example the Clean Air Act was introduced in 1956. Our strong commitment to improving air quality will continue after the UK leaves the EU.
â€œAs we prepare to negotiate our exit the Government will continue to ensure the right policies are in place for a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone.
â€œDefra will soon be publishing a 25 Year Environment Plan Framework, in line with our manifesto. The publication of the Framework will be a clear message on our world-leading ambition to leave the environment in a better state for future generations than we find it.
â€œAir quality has improved significantly in recent decades; we are working at local, national and international levels and will continue to do more.â€
Last week, Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment, confirmed that the EUâ€™s Air Quality Directive will be among the legislation transferred into UK law following Brexit (see AirQualityNews.com story).
However, the government has faced criticism over its perceived inaction on air pollution (see AirQualityNews.com story) and faced court action from ClientEarth last week over levels of air pollution in the UK (see AirQualityNews.com story).