Business Insider UK News UK – 3 October 2018 – The UK government will be offering cash for “unpreviously unseen” air pollution problems in its national capital in an effort to address a “huge gap” in the national air quality target set by the UN, according to a government report.
In a letter to MPs on Wednesday, the Environment Agency said it was “committed to meeting our targets” on the National Ambient Air Quality Strategy (NAAS), but that a cash infusion to the capital’s air quality fund could make a “massive difference” in addressing the problem.
The £100 million gap in the target has been a major sticking point for ministers over the last 12 months as they seek to secure sufficient funding to meet their target of limiting PM2.5 levels to 25 micrograms per cubic metre by 2020.
However, the government report said that “unsurprisingly” there is a “significant gap” between the targets, which the government set for the capital last year, and the amount of money it is now providing for the target.
The Environment Agency (EA) said that it will now offer cash to help pay for “the first-ever cash injection of £100M” into the capital, which is part of a wider package of £600 million needed to “ensure the capital is protected and protected for future generations”.
It said that the “financial support provided” would include a “fund of £20m to help with the cost of the Clean Air Act Amendment Bill, which would allow local authorities to set their own standards and to set a higher cap for the AQI limit.
The bill, which will be debated by the House of Commons later this month, would also allow the UK to “set a new maximum AQI threshold of 30 microgram per cubic meter” by 2020, and “ensuring local authorities meet this threshold would make it easier to meet our national targets.”
The funding, which was announced in December, is likely to come from a combination of funding already allocated to the fund, and additional funding from other countries.
The government also plans to “make a further investment of £300m to ensure the UK’s national targets remain in place for the foreseeable future”.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the gap between the government’s targets and the actual levels of PM2, or fine particulate matter, that residents breathe is “significant”, and that the capital has the “highest level of PM-related air pollution in England”.
It also warned that “the financial contribution to meet the targets is limited and it is unclear whether the Government’s strategy will deliver sufficient funds to meet these targets.”
In December, the EPA announced that it would be funding the £100-million “First Air Pollution Action Fund”, but it has not yet released details of what the funding would be used for.
The UK Government is expected to announce further details of its plans to address the gap in funding later this week. “
The funding will be made available to local authorities and local communities in accordance with the UK Air Quality Management Act,” the agency said.
The UK Government is expected to announce further details of its plans to address the gap in funding later this week.
The “first-ever” cash injection from the government is expected, in part, to address concerns raised by campaigners, including the Campaign for Better Transport, which have questioned the “unacceptable” amount of time needed to implement the plan.
The Campaign for the Future of Air Pollutants, a coalition of campaigners, said the funding was “not enough” to “effectively meet the target”, and argued that the funding could be spent on the “right things”.
“The new funding will help us meet our air quality targets, but it is far too early to say whether the government will provide sufficient funding,” a spokesperson for the Campaign said.