Welsh Government proposes stricter measures to reduce air pollution

The Welsh Government has today (January 13) published a new Clean Air White Paper, with an aim to reduce air pollution and its impacts on public health. 

It is currently estimated that air pollution contributes to between 1,000 – 1,400 premature deaths in Wales every single year. 

In a bid to reduce this, the White Paper includes a proposal to introduce a new air quality target setting framework alongside plans to enhance the effectiveness of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) legislation.

The government has also proposed a new dedicated charging scheme for trunk roads as well as further anti-idling guidance and the power for Local Authorities to increase the amount of fixed penalty fines for idling.

A consultation on the White Paper will begin today and will run until April 7. 

In conjunction with the White Paper, the government has also published a report looking at the impact that lockdown has had on air quality in Wales. 

The report highlights that while fewer cars on the road meant a decrease of 36% and 49% in nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides  respectively, a change of weather pattern brought an increase in PM2.5 from continental Europe. 

The Welsh Government is also currently consulting on approaches to reduce emissions from domestic burning of solid fuels. They are proposing the introducion of a ban on the sale of house coal and wet wood. 

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: ‘This is not an attempt to ban the use of wood as a fuel, or to ban the use of wood burning stoves. We do, however, aim to inform the public of the hazards posed from fine particulate matter and other air pollution released from burning in any form, and the harm that it does to the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales.’

Lesley Griffiths, the minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, commetned on today’s announcments: ‘Breathing clean air and having access to a healthy environment is a right, not a privilege. We must take decisive and lasting action now to enable our future generations to lead healthy lives.

‘Welsh Government’s number one priority remains keeping our communities safe and supporting families and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘But just like COVID, air pollution disproportionately impacts the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. We know from the report published today that the situation is not straight forward. I welcome views from the public, academics, charities and businesses alike, to help us paint a clear picture of how we will improve our air quality and collaboratively build our path to a greener and healthier Wales.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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