UKRI & Met Office appoint Clean Air Champions

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Met Office have appointed three ‘Clean Air Champions’ to help drive a programme to improve air quality.

The programme aims to develop solutions to air pollution to help policymakers and businesses protect health and work towards a cleaner economy.

It’s a £19.6m collaboration funded under the Strategic Priorities Fund and is managed by organisations within UKRI and the Met Office.

The Champions are:

  • Professor Stephen Holgate, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton;
  • Professor Martin Williams, Head of Science Policy and Epidemiology team at King’s College London and former Head of the Air Quality programme at Defra;
  • Dr Jenny Baverstock, Senior Collaboration Fellow at the University of Southampton.

In a joint statement, the newly-appointed Clean Air Champions said: ‘We are delighted to be chosen as the UKRI Clean Air Champions. Recognising that atmospheric pollution in the UK is responsible for ~40,000 early deaths and costs of ~£20bn pa to health services and business, our role is to be thought leaders, flag bearers, and strategy owners for the new Clean Air programme.

‘We will bring together outstanding researchers in atmospheric, medical and social science in joined-up thinking and ground-breaking solutions to help create a sound health-based policy, innovative business and trusted public information for the benefit of current and future generations.’

In addition to the appointment of the Champions, major activities that will take place under the SPF Clean Air programme have been announced.

These include the launch of five new research projects funded by UKRI. The projects include the development of improved tools and technologies for measuring and predicting emissions, investigation of the factors underlying individual exposure to pollution and disease, and methods to understand how a broad range of policy changes might affect air quality.

Duncan Wingham, who is co-leading the programme through his role as executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said: ‘The Clean Air projects will create the foundation for interdisciplinary research to understand and tackle air quality issues, drawing on the existing strengths of the UK’s world-class research base.

‘This is a timely programme that will enhance our capability to respond to current and future threats to public health and build a more resilient, cleaner economy.’