CIWEM calls for urgent action on air pollution from the new government

CIWEM has submitted its response to the government on its draft 2017 air quality plan.

The new government must urgently tackle the issue of poor air quality across the UK. This should be an opportunity to not only protect people’s health but also make the UK a world leader in tackling air pollution and developing low emission technologies.

As drafted the proposed air quality plan (AQP) is a missed opportunity and will not result in legal limits being met in the shortest time possible. It ignores its own technical evidence that identifies charging Clean Air Zones as the most effective way to reduce air pollution in towns and cities quickly and fails to propose much needed changes to the vehicle tax regimes or outline details for a targeted diesel scrappage scheme.

The draft 2017 AQP does not actually commit to practical measures to tackle the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide and is instead largely a plan to make another plan. It also fails to provide a clear timetable or plan for meeting air quality limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It fails to address national policies that are identified as contributing to the problem. In particular, despite identifying the role of the vehicle tax regime in worsening air quality by encouraging the increase of diesel vehicles, no measure has been proposed and the matter has been left to the Treasury to explore at a later date.

The government must commit to ensuring that effective measures will be appropriately funded and incentivised. Air quality is a major public health crisis which has been allowed to perpetuate, in full government view, for many years. It has a responsibility to its citizens to act in their best interests, with a proactivity befitting the nature of the challenge. We hope to see significant improvements to the plan following this consultation period.


CIWEM is a partner in the Healthy Air Campaign, calling for:

  1. A comprehensive network of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) across the UK – these must keep the dirtiest vehicles out of the most polluted parts of our towns and cities and champion public transport, walking and cycling.
  2. A series of measures to help people switch from the dirtiest vehicles to cleaner forms of transport including tackling the perverse fiscal incentives for diesel cars.
  3. A new UK Clean Air Act to ensure and preserve our rights in law to breathe clean air.


To read the response in full please visit