One of the organisers of the Clean Air Day campaign has called for a national, coordinated public engagement strategy for air quality which does not last one day, but continues year-round.
Chris Large, from charity Global Action Plan, said he wanted to see this delivered as part of the government’s Clean Air Strategy, which is due to be published in final form by the end of the year.
Mr Large was speaking at the National Air Quality conference and awards in London on Thursday (October 4). The event was organised by airqualitynews.com.
Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign and this year saw 550 events taking place across the country on June 21 2018, ranging from free park and ride services to people cycling to work. Over 2,000 organisations participated and the event generated media coverage worth an estimated £8 million.
While ambitious plans are already in place for Clean Air Day 2019, Mr Large said he believed more needed to be done at a national level to engage with the public about air pollution.
“What we think would be greatest to see is a national strategy for public engagement on air quality”, he said. “The need for this is very apparent. London has a much greater desire for acting on air quality than other cities — we would like to get that up. If the public is to play a role in full they will need to make different decisions about things like how they get about.”
Encouraging the public to drive less, choose less polluting cars, run their houses in a less polluting manner and approve of policies to cut emissions could all help lower emissions, he explained.
And, he called for engagement activity across the UK to include: a national vision for the future on clean air; a one-stop online public advice service; public choice programmes encouraging behaviour change; and, the creation of a clean airforce.
He also called for “more awareness events, not just Clean Air Day but year round.”
Praising the amount of work taking place, he said there was a need for more coordination at a national level.
In order to make this a reality, Mr Large made a plea to the Treasury for “significant” funding.
He said: “We do need significant funds for this to take place. We are talking about tens of millions of pounds of funding, not tens of thousands.
“The main call goes to the Treasury. I know Defra supported the Clean Air Day. If there is anything we can all call for to happen it would be for cross-government funding for Public Health England and Defra to tackle this.”