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Defra LAQM consultation

Traffic Jam, Glasgow, Scotland In 2013 Defra undertook a review of Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) in the UK and proposed four options during the consultation on LAQM in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be considered in consultations under the devolved administrations. The review had four main aims:
  • Local action focused on what is necessary to support air quality improvements to benefit public health and to work towards EU air quality standards
  • Local government and other stakeholders are clear on their roles and responsibilities and work together to improve air quality
  • Local authorities have simple reporting requirements with less bureaucracy and time to concentrate on actions to improve air quality and public health
  • Local authorities have access to information about evidence based measures to improve air quality, including on transport and communications
In order to achieve these aims the Government proposed four options for how LAQM might be changed as a result of the consultation.  The four proposed options were:
  1. Business as usual with limited changes
  2. Concentration on Action Planning and focuses reporting
  3. Alignment with EU requirements to meet air quality limit values
  4. Separate local air quality management duties do not exist
Summary of responses
  • 133 responses from Local Authorities
  • 82 from organisations including environmental groups
  • 17 from individuals
  • 17,500 emails from the 38 degrees campaign
  •  Approximately 600 emails from the biofuelwatch campaign
  • Approximately 150 emails from other, unidentified, campaigns (with similar wording)
Among the responses there was almost no support for option 4.  This was consistently identified as likely to worsen rather than improve air quality.  There was also limited support for option 3 (the Government’s preferred option) with option 2 being the one identified as more generally able to achieve the aims of the review. The individual responses and comments broadly suggest that none of the options are wholly appropriate to achieve the review aims and alternative options and scenarios were suggested in favour of those presented by the Government. Next steps for the Government These were broken down by aim of the review Aim 1 Defra will review the range of air quality objectives that apply to local authorities, taking into account the relevance of these objectives for health protection, and the levels assessed in recent years. Aim 2 Defra will review the need for additional guidance on these duties as part of its review of guidance to local authorities in fulfilling their duties under the Act. Aim 3 Defra will make proposals to introduce regular annual reporting on air quality for local authorities, taking into account comments made and following further discussions with stakeholders on the content of such reports. Defra will take account of the support for retaining AQMAs and will also review the guidance on declaration/revocation procedures in order to reduce administrative burdens, taking into account matters of health impacts through exposure to air pollution and scope for measures. Aim 4 Defra will continue to explore (with delivery partners and stakeholders) ways of improving and disseminating evidence-based measures, including supporting innovative schemes.  We will revise official guidance to coincide with the implementation of changes to the LAQM system, likely in mid-late 2015. Options – conclusions Defra will explore all alternatives with key delivery partners in the early part of 2014, the outcome of which will inform a second consultation (in mid-late 2014) on regulatory changes and guidance. In the future The IAQM will continue to respond on behalf of its members to consultations on local air quality management and offers its continued support to the Government in order to ensure that environmental air quality concerns are properly consider alongside the health and economic implications of Government decisions. To read the full Defra consultation response document click here.
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