New delay over pollution plans as some areas worse than thought


The Government has been criticised over its updated strategy to tackle air pollution, as it involves calling on some councils to carry out their own plans, delaying action for at least another year. 

Environment department Defra has published a supplement to the Government’s plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations after the High Court found that ministers’ existing – second – plan was inadequate.


It shows that for some road links where local authorities had identified a ‘more persistent exceedance’ of legal levels, the road links were projected to become compliant as late as 2028.

These areas and their projected dates of compliance under current plans are:

  • Bolsover 2023
  • Bradford 2027
  • Portsmouth 2023
  • Broxbourne 2028
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme 2026
  • Stoke-on-Trent 2022
  • Leicester 2022
  • Liverpool 2026

Defra said these authorities: ‘Will now carry out a more detailed study outlining in detail how they will tackle the more persistent air quality problems they have identified. These studies will be presented to government by 31 October 2019 at the latest.'

The Government supplementary plan stipulates that where measures were identified by councils - under the forthcoming new local plans - which would bring forward compliance at hotspots, the Government has issued legal directions to these authorities to require them to deliver these measures and will fund them.

‘Alongside this, the Government will work with these local authorities to put in place monitoring of air quality and traffic on the target roads, where this is not already in place. This will allow us to keep track of whether or not compliance is being achieved on the expected timetable.

‘For those local authorities that are implementing measures for which the evidence base is weaker, such as behavioural change campaigns, local authorities will also be expected to carry out an evaluation to understand the extent to which the measures have contributed to air quality improvements.’

Katie Nield, clean air lawyer at campaign group ClientEarth, which has defeated the Government three times on the issue said: ‘Today’s pitiful plan shows that the Government’s strategy to tackle air pollution by passing the buck to local authorities is in tatters. It’s essential that the Government takes action on a national scale.

‘Amazingly, ministers have now ordered more plans, which means more delays. It shows a shocking lack of leadership on a key public health issue.'

ClientEarth warned that the problem could be even worse as 12 authorities were not required to take any action to tackle air pollution after its most recent court victory because they were projected to have legal levels of air pollution by the end of 2018.

It said that given that local assessments in other areas have shown the problem to be worse than the Government thought, ‘it is possible these local authority areas may also have a hidden problem with toxic air’.

However the Government said that at a national level overall NO2 concentrations in 2017 were lower than predicted by the central projections used to inform the NO2 plan.

Defra said a further 10 authorities will now take forward new measures, developed with and funded by central government. These councils are;

  • Dudley
  • Leicester
  • Newcastle-under Lyme
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Wolverhampton
  • Sandwell
  • Solihull
  • Basingstoke and Deane
  • South Gloucestershire

The supplementary plan covers 33 local authorities who were issues with Ministerial Directions earlier this year, requiring them to submit studies on the steps they can take to comply with roadside NO2 limits 'in the shortest amount of time'.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: ‘Through our £3.5bn national air quality plan, we are working with local authorities across the UK and I am pleased 10 local authorities will now implement new measures to drive down pollution.

‘The roads minister, Jesse Norman, and I have written to the leaders of all the authorities that have submitted feasibility studies to thank them for their hard work and underline that Defra will continue to support them to improve air quality in their areas.'

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Environmental Health Officers within Environmental Protection, Health and Safety and Food Safety

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£30,507 - £32,878
We expect candidates to have expertise or qualifications in one or more of the relevant areas of Air Quality, Acoustics and/or Contaminated Land. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Assistant Director

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council
£92,826 - £111,231
This is an ideal opportunity for an expert waste management professional to make a real impact and to lead the service to outstanding. Fulham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council

Environmental Health Officer and Grad EHO – Private Sector Housing with benefits*

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £42,490
Exciting opportunity for a highly organised and enthusiastic Environment Health Officer or a newly qualified graduate working towards... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Sector Reform

West Midlands Combined Authority
The role requires someone with a talent for innovation and a passion for designing and implementing public services. West Midlands Region
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Vehicle Technician x3

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
All Candidates must hold a clean category C driving licence (CPC not required). Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Primary locations will include Clacton and Harlow only. Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part tim England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change

Durham County Council
You will manage a range of front-line services including bins and waste, transport, environmental health, technical services, partnerships and... Durham (County)
Recuriter: Durham County Council

Tenancy Enforcement Assistant

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22.377 - £23.607
Looking for individuals who have an interest in the environment with good customer service skills, flexible approach to work and a good team player. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Head of Programme Management Office

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
As the Head of PMO, you will define and maintain standards for project management within the Highways Service. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Highways Development Specialist

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
Seeking a highly capable strategic leader to join the team to develop our strategic pipeline of works and financial model. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£214 per week
Are you looking to gain vital work experience as an Apprentice? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Planner/Planner

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £32,878
The ideal candidate will already have... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Principal Engineer

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
The successful candidate will... Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Environmental Health Officer (Food, Health & Safety) & Environmental Health Technical Officer

Dacorum Borough Council
£24,710 to £39,034
You will be highly motivated and be expected to deliver against a challenging work plan. London (Greater)
Recuriter: Dacorum Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Worcestershire County Council
Competitive Salary
We’ll look to you to take responsibility for the high-calibre delivery of... Worcestershire
Recuriter: Worcestershire County Council

Street Cleansing Operative Driver (Large Goods Vehicles)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£22,377 to £23,607
We are looking to recruit staff for both our day service and evening service. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Street Works Officer

Enfield London Borough Council
£29,766 to £30,708
he Network Coordination Team are looking for an enthusiastic self-motivated person to join its Street Works Team. Enfield (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Enfield London Borough Council

Traffic Management Group Manager

Devon County Council
This is an exciting time for the Service with the immediate introduction of a new Permit scheme and significant programme of redesign and... Devon
Recuriter: Devon County Council

Principal Engineer (Highway Safety)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£30,507 - £38,813
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Principal Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Principal Engineer (Highways Operations)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£30,507 - £38,813
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Principal Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council