UK is not on track to reduce air pollution nor is it informing the public about air quality, says NAO | air pollution

The spending watchdog has warned that the government is not on the right track to reduce air pollution and is not effectively communicating the issue to the public.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that current policy measures will not be sufficient to meet most of the government’s air quality targets by 2030.

A report by the NAO said people cannot easily learn about air quality problems in their area, while the government is not communicating effectively about the need for solutions such as charging polluting vehicles for driving in clean air areas.

While air pollution levels have declined in recent decades, the UK has breached legal limits for the main pollutant nitrogen dioxide since 2010 and the government does not expect to meet the targets fully until after 2030.

There are also concerns about the health effects of fine particulate matter known as particulate matter (PM2.5), as the government is set to set a new legal target to reduce pollutants in the fall.

Air pollution is linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually in the UK from heart disease and stroke, while it can cause reduced lung development, respiratory infections and exacerbation of asthma in children.

NAO called on the Department of the Environment (Defra) to make air quality information more accessible to the public.

She also warned that local communications campaigns around clean air zones – which charge the most polluting vehicles to drive through an area like the city center – do not appear to be entirely effective.

Clean air areas have faced political and public opposition, and some local authorities have raised concerns about the lack of a national campaign that could inform road users of the need for clean air measures, the National Aviation Office said.

The report highlights that measures such as clean air zones can have a positive impact on air quality, with analysis from Bath and Northeast Somerset suggesting it helps reduce the number of polluting vehicles, change travel behavior and improve air quality.

The National Monitoring Office found that a program of work with local authorities to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution, which comes from sources such as traffic fumes, has progressed more slowly than expected.

The report warned that implementing the measures was also taking longer in many areas than expected, and said the pandemic was not the only reason for the delay.

The National Aviation Office also said Defra told it there are challenges in curbing some pollutants — with a risk of higher energy prices. Use of wood-burning stoves And particulate pollution, the difficulties of changing the use of fertilizers in agriculture causing ammonia emissions.

The civil aviation office has warned the government that it will need to move quickly with “robust plans” to reduce pollution and engage the public effectively to ensure it achieves its goals and gets value for money for what it spends on air quality.

Gareth Davies, head of the Civil Aviation Bureau, said, “The government has made progress in tackling illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution, but not as quickly as expected.

There are also concerns about health risks from fine particles, which the government is finding difficult to address.

“To achieve all of its 2030 targets for major air pollutants, the government will need to quickly develop robust solutions. The public needs clear information to understand why clean air measures are important and what the measures will mean in their area. Those who live in the most affected areas should be able to know when and how the air quality is likely to improve.”

Responding to the report, Meg Heller, chair of Labour’s Public Accounts Committee, said: “Government is slow to tackle air quality and people’s health will suffer.

“Proper communication with the public has been sorely lacking. Spreading unfathomable information is like serving soup without a spoon – it is pointless. Dealing properly with the public about air quality is vital so that they can become part of the solution. “.