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Welsh air pollution plan risks repeating English mistakes

The Welsh Government risks repeating the shambolic approach of UK ministers environmental lawyers ClientEarth have said, after a new air quality plan for Wales was released yesterday afternoon.

Welsh Ministers promised the High Court in January this year that they would publish the plan, following a successful legal challenge by ClientEarth.

Reacting to the 107 page document, ClientEarth clean air lawyer Katie Nield said: “It looks like the Welsh Government, like the UK Government before it, is passing the buck to local authorities to deal with this problem.

“This approach has proved shambolic in England, with local authorities missing deadlines and complaining of not being properly supported and having a lack of funding to implement their chosen measures.

“We urge Welsh ministers not to make the same mistake we have seen in the plan for England and to make sure that action is taken with the urgency required to protect people’s health.”

The Welsh Government has already introduced speed restrictions on five trunk roads in an attempt to reduce pollution but even with these restrictions in place, pollution limits are set to be broken on those roads until 2021 – 11 years after those pollution limits came in.

Measurements that have been taken so far indicate that the pollution problem on some of these roads may be much worse than originally thought.

Nield added: “If the Welsh Government is truly interested in protecting people’s health, it is clear that much more needs to be done across Wales to urgently reduce emissions from road transport.”

Concentrations of the harmful gas, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are at illegal levels in all four ‘zones’ in Wales. The legal limit of an annual average mean concentration of NO2 of 40μg/m3 came into force on 1 January 2010.

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Daniel Clarke