DEFRA publish summary of responses to Air Quality Strategy Consultation

Now infamous for its brevity, the ten day Air Quality Strategy consultation period was over before you knew it and the government have now published a summary of the responses they received and have, in turn, responded to them.

434 people responded of which 97 were from local government, 160 were from individuals, 18 were from community groups, 9 were from academic or research institutions, 114 were from businesses, 5 were from health bodies, 29 were from non-governmental organisations, 3 were from other government organisations, 1 response was from a parliamentarian and 40 people didn’t say.

Here we present some of the more relevant highlights:

Question 6 was: Are there additional local or national actions or powers that you think could be taken to support work on domestic burning?

Suggestions included:

  • enhanced communication assets for local authorities
  • greater awareness raising on smoke control areas
  • standard enforcement templates for local authorities
  • changes to garden waste collection
  • mandatory annual sweeping of chimneys
  • enhanced local authority powers of investigation

Government response: ‘We will publish a best practice guide to help reduce emissions from outdoor burning. We have already published guidance on enforcement of smoke nuisance. We will highlight this to local authorities and provide further resources and training. We are not considering a ban on domestic burning in England.’

Question 8 was: How do you feel local authorities can most effectively reduce pollution from transport and non-road mobile machinery?

  • improvements to public transport
  • encouraging active travel including improved cycle lanes
  • implementing low traffic neighbourhoods (traffic calming measures) or charging zones

Government response: ‘While the majority who responded favoured local authority intervention, the responses also reflected divided opinion in communities over local interventions to reduce pollution from road vehicles. We therefore consider it right that local councils are generally best placed to determine the best local interventions in the context of the local area and in full consultation with the local community.’

Question 10 was: How do you feel local authorities can most effectively improve indoor air quality?

Suggestions included:

  • raise awareness of indoor air quality, highlighting steps the public can take to reduce their exposure to a range of indoor pollutants, including mould, cleaning products and scented products
  • improve ventilation in buildings
  • stricter building standards
  • need for close links with public health and social services professionals
  • set updated standards and better enforcement of existing standards

Government response: ‘The government accepts that there is a role at both the national and local level to prevent and reduce indoor air pollution. The action we are taking across sectors to reduce emissions outdoors will have an impact on the air quality indoors by reducing the transfer of outdoor pollutants indoors. The government is also taking steps to review and update guidance where necessary, including in relation to the health impacts of damp and mould in homes.

Question 12 was: Do you feel that there are additional powers relating to air quality which should be available to local authorities?

  • Yes – 41%
  • No – 48%

Comments included

  • local authorities should use or enforce their existing powers more effectively
  • greater local authority training was needed
  • local authority funding and staff resources were constraining their ability to effectively enforce or use existing powers
  • local air quality strategies should be put on a statutory footing, requiring all local authorities to prepare one

Government response: ‘a strong theme running through allresponses is that local authorities should  equipped to make best use of and enforce existing legislation. In the Environmental Improvement Plan, and as set out in chapter 3.4 of the strategy, the government is committed to undertaking an audit of local authority powers. We do not consider it currently necessary to put local air quality strategies on a statutory footing, though we will continue to keep the role of local authorities under review.

Question 13 was: What further support could government provide to help with actions taken locally to tackle air quality? (this was a ‘tick all that apply’ format)

  • increased guidance (54%)
  • other (56%)
  • knowledge hub including assets for local authorities (45%)
  • sharing space or website for best practice examples of local working (45%)
  • enforcement pro-formas or templates (37%)
  • virtual teach-ins on topics (36%)
  • face to face teach-ins on topics (30%)

Government response: ‘Over the coming months, Defra intends to roll out a programme of support for local authorities to enable them to make the best use of their resources and powers. We also intend to hold a local authority symposium in the 2023 to 24 financial year to bring together local authority representatives to share best practice and learning.

The full document can be read here


Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Thank you, Paul, all very interesting. A shame no more responded, 434 is rather low. Many didn’t know about it? On domestic burning, I see the official line still talks about the “nuisance” factor. Why doesn’t our government say “public health issue instead? And I’m shocked that annual chimney sweeping isn’t mandatory already. But that would mean a national register of all wood and coal burners? Why ever not? Vehicles and gas boilers are registered. Sweeps could check the fine particulate soot levels at the same time. We need greater awareness about the harmful effetcs of smoke everywhere not just in “smoke control areas”. On pollution road traffic, of course we need more and better public transport – but where is the money to come from? Should have been done years ago. On indoor AQ and awareness, we could start with information given out at NHS surgeries. If NHS staff have wood stoves themselves, burn scented candles and chemcial cosmetic sprays at home (or at worke even?), they need to understand the risks themselves first. But do they? About local authorities, I don’t understand the need for a audit of their powers. What does that mean? I fear it will just delay any action. It’s money & empowerment they need not audits, surely? But perhaps that is what the “programme of support for local authorities” and the symposoium will be about? All takes time, that is my concern, and that issues are being “pushed further down the road”. But overall, it ought to be progress.

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top