What is Government doing?

Action to manage and improve air quality is largely driven by European Union law, which sets legally binding limits for levels of major air pollutants. Separate legislation exists for emissions of air pollutants.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for ensuring that these limits are not exceeded in England, as well as co-ordinating air quality assessments and action plans for the UK as a whole.

The UK Government also sets out air quality standards and objectives in an Air Quality Strategy and within London, the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy sets out a framework for delivering improvements to air quality.

Following the Environment Act of 1995 local authorities are also required to review air quality in their area. If improvements are necessary they have to designate air quality management areas where they work towards certain air quality objectives. An air quality action plan, describing the pollution reduction measures, must then be put in place. It can be difficult for local authorities to make meaningful improvements as they do not always have effective control over the sources of pollution within their area.

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