The commitment came in a response to a major joint inquiry by MPs which concluded in March, and was critical of the government’s response to high levels of air pollution in towns and cities, accusing ministers of taking a ‘box-ticking’ approach to the issue
In a written statement to the inquiry, published by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit, Health, and Transport Committees today (20 June) the government said it recognised that “more needs to be done” to address air pollution.
In their report in March, the four Committees also set out a series of recommendations for government, which included greater public health advice to the public during episodes of high air pollution, and bringing forward new standards to limit the emission of harmful air pollutants.
MPs also recommended that air quality monitoring should be carried out at ‘key spots in local communities’ such as near schools, hospitals and care homes.
The report suggested that the government’s approach to air quality monitoring needs to be expanded to capture ‘more useful local data’ after concerns were aired that differences in the way that local and central government assess air quality levels may provide conflicting outcomes.
Responding to the comments, the government noted that that “different approaches to local and national modelling and monitoring, which have been established under different legislative regimes, can create uncertainty.”
Currently through the Environment Act, local authorities are required to review and assess local air quality levels, with a focus on pollution hotspots; while the national monitoring regime which informs progress towards EU ambient air quality targets focusses on assessment of general exposure to pollutants.
Government said it will seek to address these concerns through a review of the existing regimes, to be carried out later this year.
It said: “…we recognise there is scope to make better use of the data from local monitoring networks, alongside the national Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN). We will commission projects this year which aim to deliver a solution to allow local and national data to be utilised from the same location, while providing clear guidance as to how each data source should be used.